Clearly not amused with several public interest litigations being filed for a probe into the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the Madras high court on Monday asked as to what extent the medical treatment details of a person should be put in public domain, merely because she occupied a public office. The Tamil Nadu government said in a statement it will file its response in a sealed cover.
The Apollo Hospital also in their argument said that it is ready to submit all medical reports and discharge summary in a ‘sealed cover’ to the Madras High Court. “What is the locus standi of petitioners when none of Jayalalithaa’s blood relatives has approached the court?” the bench said.
With the state government seeking time to submit details, High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul posted the case for further hearing for February 23.
Joseph, the petitioner, stated before the bench that although he was not a blood relative of the former CM, he was an AIADMK member and a Tamil Nadu and hence, he along with every citizen of the state deserve to know what had happened to the “Amma”.
The PIL was admitted by a vacation bench last month with an observation as to why not the court order exhumation of the body of Jayalalithaa.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals on September 22. After 75 days of hospitalisation, she died on December 5.
Joseph had sought appointment of three former judges of the Supreme Court to call for medical treatment details from Apollo Hospitals and conduct a probe.
Believing that the public should know what has happened, Justice S Vaidyanathan, who was heading a two-judge vacation bench, indicated the same. “One day it was told that she is walking, another day you said that she will come out and suddenly what happened. Even with regard to the health of late Chief Minister MGR, video was released,” Justice Vaidyanathan said. Justice Vaidyanathan asked the AG, “What is that you say. Right to live is a Fundamental Right. Public should know what has happened,” he added.
“Even relations were not allowed to see and they are also not before the court now. I personally find in case if I have doubt I may order exhumation of the body of deceased and you have not told anything when she was alive,” the judge said.
“You went there. You have not reported anything. You know everything. But not reported anything for the reasons best known to you. You kept quiet,” the judge asked Madanagopala Rao, who appeared on behalf of Union Government.
“We also saw in newspapers that the chief minister was recovering, and that she was eating, signing papers and even conducting meetings. And then suddenly she was dead,” said the bench.