The long-awaited report of the Arumughaswamy Commission, constituted to probe the allegedly suspicious circumstances around the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s death, was submitted to the state government on Saturday, August 27.
The report is all set to be placed before the state cabinet in its meeting on Monday, August 29 on the direction of Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin and “due action” will be taken, said an official release. The DMK had earlier promised ahead of the 2021 assembly elections that they would initiate legal action against any person found guilty.
The report is being submitted five years after the demise of the former TN CM.
The Commission, headed by a retired Madras high court judge, Justice A Arumughaswamy, had been constituted by the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government. The panel had commenced its hearing on November 22, 2017. Although the commission was asked to submit the report after three months of its formation, its tenure was extended about 14 times over the years.
Submitting the report to CM MK Stalin, Justice Arumughaswamy stated that it is now up to the government to decide on making it public.
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Satisfying outing: Justice Arumughaswamy
Later, speaking to reporters, he said the 500 page report in English was prepared after hearing about 150 witnesses. The Tamil version was up to 608 pages. “Only the government can decide on publishing the report,” he said, adding that all the aspects that were a matter of concern have been mentioned in the report.
It has been a “satisfying” outing for him, he told the media, adding that Apollo hospital and V Sasikala had cooperated with the Commission. Besides the circumstances leading to her hospitalisation, the commission also probed the correctness, adequacy and inadequacy of medical treatment given to the former actor turned CM. It also includes the fact that she was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai on September 22, 2016 with fever and dehydration. She died on December 5 the same year, after 75 days of hospitalisation.
Questioned on whether he had “doubts on anyone,” he replied, “that is the report.” The retired judge did not want to divulge any “specific” details from the report. “I have written less, but mentioned the depositions of witnesses running to many pages”, he said. Back in March this year, while deposing before the panel, former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had said he did not have any suspicions about Jayalalithaa’s death and he was only reflecting the doubts in the minds of the people, when he had asked for a commission to probe the circumstances of her death.
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Arumughaswamy, meanwhile, also added that the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi gave its report on Jayalalithaa’s death three months after her demise. Many felt the commission “worked like a court,” he said and thanked Stalin and the state government for allowing the commission to continue.
Among the witnesses who deposed before the commission were AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam (OPS), Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa and nephew Deepak, doctors, top officials and the party’s C Vijayabaskar (former health minister), M Thambi Durai, C Ponnaiyan and Manoj Pandian.
Deepa and Deepak had raised their doubts over the circumstances surrounding their aunt’s death. K Sasikala, confidante of the late CM had filed an affidavit through her counsel in 2018. And, in her affidavit, she talked about, among other points, the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation.
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During the recent proceedings, doctors from the Apollo Hospital briefed through video-conferencing a medical board of specialists from AIIMS-Delhi on the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa. The AIIMS panel had taken part in the proceedings virtually to help the commission handle medical aspects as per the Supreme Court’s direction.
Commission’s proceedings disrupted
The Commission’s proceedings were disrupted after the Supreme Court ordered a stay on it on April 26, 2019, after Apollo Hospitals dragged the commission to the apex court and demanded the formation of a medical expert committee to assist the commission. However, after nearly three years, the commission restarted its work on March 7, 2022, when the Supreme Court vacated the stay and constituted a committee of medical experts from AIIMS, Delhi to assist it.
In 2020, DMK chief Stalin calling the Commission an “eyewash”, had tweeted that when the DMK is elected to power, it would unmask those responsible for her death and bring them to justice.