The Madras High Court on Friday questioned the Tamil Nadu government as to why the Arumughaswamy commission, probing former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death, should not be ordered to submit its final report within three months. Adjourning the hearing for six weeks, the court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to file an explanation as to why the final report could not be submitted within three months.
The petitioner Thondan Subramani had urged the Madras High Court to direct the authorities to wind up the commission, saying that it is defunct and public money is spent on it. The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, admitted the plea and ordered notice to the state to file a detailed report in six weeks. The court adjourned the plea to September for the state to make its submissions. In his plea, Subramani asked the court “to pass appropriate orders to wind up the commission of enquiry and save taxpayers' money”.
In a petition filed before the Madras High Court, Thondan Subramani said that he filed the petition based on his concern towards spending of taxpayer money on commission of Inquiries. “There was no progress in the proceedings of the commission for the past two years. But taxpayer money is still being spent on the commission which is defunct now,” advocate M. Gnanasekar representing the petitioner said. He added that neither the state government nor the commission had moved the apex court to take steps to vacate the interim stay. The government advocate P. Muthukumar submitted that there is a Special Leave Petition (SLP) pending at the Supreme Court since 2019.
The Arumughaswamy commission, which was set up on August 25, 2017, to probe the mystery behind the death of Jayalalithaa, was supposed to complete enquiry and submit its report within three months from the date of notification of the order. However, the term of commission was extended from time to time. The commission has apparently received extensions for over 10 times and the latest extension period will get over by the end of July. Meanwhile, the management of Apollo Hospitals, where Jayalalithaa died, approached the Supreme Court regarding the correctness of the commission’s probe, particularly into the adequacy of the medical treatment provided to her.
As of now, the commission has completed its inquiry with the doctors who treated Jayalalithaa, the hospital and the health department authorities who were involved in her treatment. Sasikala, too, had filed a detailed affidavit from her side and had expressed her willingness to cooperate. Apparently, former deputy chief minister and AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam is yet to appear before the commission for deposition. While summons were sent to him, the Supreme Court had stayed the proceedings of the commission.
However, sources close to the commission say that Justice Arumughaswamy was not happy with the way the former AIADMK government and the leadership allowed the commission to function. In fact, a few of the authorities in the commission are of the opinion that the then AIADMK government purposely delayed the legal process to get the stay vacated in the Supreme Court, despite many letters sent by Justice Arumughaswamy.