Friday, Oct 07, 2022

Retired High Court Judge To Head Probe Into Jayalalithaa's Death

Tamil Nadu government on Monday, set up an inquiry commission headed by a retired high court judge to probe AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's death, amid renewed demands for a thorough investigation after a state minister claimed their party leaders had lied about her health condition.

Justice (Retd.) Arumugasamy will head the inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa on December 5 last year after 75 days of treatment at corporate Apollo Hospitals here.

An official release said: "To conduct inquiry and submit a report on the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, an inquiry commission headed by retired high court judge Justice Arumugasamy has been constituted."

A government order had been issued for this purpose, it added.

Doubts have been raised over the events leading to Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation on Sept 22, 2016 and her death by various quarters with opposition parties including the DMK demanding a CBI probe.

The probe into the AIADMK supremo's demise was a key pre-condition of rebel leader and now Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam for the merger of two factions led by him and Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

Four days ahead of the merger, Palaniswami had on August 17 announced that a commission of inquiry would go into the death of Jayalalithaa.

After Panneerselvam had made a demand for a probe claiming there were doubts in the minds of people, the Apollo Hospitals had arranged a media conference in February last seeking to put to rest any such apprehensions.

A team of doctors, including UK-based specialist Richard Beale, who had treated Jayalalithaa, had explained in detail the medical attention given to her during hospitalisation.

Today's announcement by the government came amid renewed demands by opposition parties for a probe after Forest Minister Dindigul C Srinivasan last week told a public meeting in Madurai that AIADMK leaders had lied about Jayalalithaa's well being during her hospitalisation.

He had claimed that they had only repeated what Jayalalithaa's close aide V K Sasikala wanted them to state.

The minister had also demanded that the Sasikala camp make public the video evidence which it claimed to possess on the treatment of the late leader.

The government's announcement came even as sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran earlier in the day asserted he would submit before any probe agency a video of Jayalalithaa shot by his aunt Sasikala.

He also sought an inquiry commission headed by a serving senior judge.

Dhinakaran said his family was in possession of a video of hospitalised Jayalalithaa shot by Sasikala and was ready to submit it before any probe agency, including the CBI.

He claimed it had not been released so far since Jayalalithaa at that time was clad in a "nightie".

"Amma (Jayalalithaa) had lost a lot of weight... It was a video shot by my aunt (Sasikala) herself. You all know none would have seen Amma in a nightie, not any functionary.

"Even when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Amma following her accident in 1989, she was fully attired... She always maintained that dignity," Dhinakaran said.

The video of Jayalalithaa, attired in a "loose nightie", was shot by Sasikala after the former was shifted from the ICU to a room in the hospital, he told reporters here.

According to Dhinakaran, when the opposition had earlier raised doubts over Jayalalithaa's treatment and death, Sasikala had suggested that "we ourselves should seek a judicial probe" into the matter.

"If that video is released by us now, there would be a debate on its authenticity," he said, adding it could be given to the probe panel.

"We are ready to submit it at an appropriate forum, whether the CBI or even Interpol. We have nothing to fear," he said.

Srinivasan had also claimed that out of fear of Sasikala, they had publicly stated that Jayalalithaa ate idlies, consumed tea and was given sweets.

No one was allowed to meet the late chief minister. Whoever came, would be briefed by Sasikala's relatives that she was "all right", he had said seeking the pardon of public.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals for fever and dehydration on September 22, 2016. After a prolonged hospitalisation, she had died on December 5, 2016 following a cardiac arrest.