Chennai: The Arumugasamy Commission, set up to probe the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, has found “culpable lapses” and ordered an inquiry on former party general secretary V.K. Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s personal physician Dr K.S. Sivakumar and former health minister C. Vijayabaskar among others, who were associated with her during her hospitalisation in 2016.
The report also revealed that multiple people questioned during the probe said Jayalalithaa died on 4 December, 2016 at 3.50 pm and not on 5 December as declared by the then AIADMK government.
The 475-page report, which was tabled in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday, noted the commission was “constrained” to come to “no other conclusion” but to “indict” Sasikala.
“From all these aspects, the Commission concludes that R.1-V.K. Sasikala, C.W.17 — K.S. Sivakumar, C.W.136 — Dr J. Radhakrishnan, then health secretary and C.W.146 – Dr C. Vijayabaskar, then health minister have to be found fault with and investigation is to be ordered,” the report tabled on Tuesday noted.
The state government had ordered an inquiry and formed the committee to investigate the late chief minister’s hospitalisation from September 22, 2016.
In September 2022, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had said “there were a lot of issues in the report of Justice Arumugasamy Commission” and that it would subsequently be tabled in the assembly, following which action would be taken.
The report questioned why Jayalalithaa was not flown abroad for treatment even though London-based intensivist Dr Richard Beale was prepared to accompany her. It also questioned why the angio surgery recommended was not performed despite the former CM’s heart condition.
The report noted the treatment given to the former chief minister was “shrouded in secrecy and there was lack of transparency, as much as there was no authentic and reliable disclosure of facts pertaining to her exact health condition and the course of treatment”.
The commission’s report also pulled up Apollo’s chairman Prathap C. Reddy who it said “issued briefings in his room often without disclosing the real fact regarding the heart ailments and the treatment given to late CM”.
Though senior cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals Y.V.C. Reddy and Dr Babu Abraham apart from the CM’s physician Sivakumar had invited doctors from Mumbai, USA and the UK, who recommended angio/surgery, the report said: “They (hospital) successfully threw it to the wind on the pretext of postponing it to achieve their aim under some pressure. Hence, the investigation is to be ordered.”
The panel report noted that Sasikala “ought to have made every endeavour to arrive at the most appropriate line of treatment after due consultation with renowned medical experts both in Indian and abroad”.
“Quite surprisingly, there was manifest and culpable lapses noticeable on the part of those who volunteered to assume the responsibility of acting in the best interest of late CM, to the exclusion of all others, especially when late CM was confined to her hospital bed and it was the only privileged few around her guiding her destiny,” the report read.
The report questioned why the patient was kept in the dark, adding, the in-charge CM, cabinet colleagues and officials were not taken into confidence. “Admittedly, the signature of late CM was not found anywhere in the records of R.2 Apollo and only R.1 (Sasikala) and C.W.12 — Chief Secretary had signed in the necessary records. This state of affairs would only expose R2 and R1 to the comment that this was part of a design to get things done in a manner that will suit their objective and the entire scheme of things had been intelligently engineered in this direction,” it noted.
Further, the report said Jayalalithaa had shown signs of positive response to the medical treatment. “From the time of admission, the doctors had concentrated only on ‘sepsis’ infection and diagnosed it as Endococcus bacteria for which they gave treatment till her setback on 27. 9. 2016 midnight. Anyhow, they have failed to attend (to) the cardiac problems, which led (to a) setback,” it said.
The commission was also of the view that there was “purposeful gross omission” on the part of hospital administration. “None other than a high profile leader of the then ruling dispensation was under treatment for as many as 75 days in R.2 hospital. There were vicissitudes of uncertainties and imponderables in the health status of late CM,” the report stated.
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