The judicial commission probing the death of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa may have hit a roadblock in its investigation as it has failed to retrieve the crucial CCTV footage of the AIADMK chief's final days.
The hospitals has told the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission that the CCTV recordings of Jayalalithaa's 75-day-long stay in Chennai's Apollo hospital has been overwritten several times automatically.
The commission is probing the circumstances leading to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa on 22 September, 2016 and the treatment provided to her till her death on 5 December, 2016, after many people in political circles expressed doubts over the circumstances that led to her death.
"The CCTV recordings get overwritten automatically after 30 days. This information was shared with the commission on 11 September," Maimoona Badsha, counsel for Apollo Hospitals, told IANS on Wednesday.
The hospital has informed the commission that it is unable to submit the requested footage as it pertains to the period when Jayalalithaa was in the hospital — between 22 September, 2016 and 5 December, 2016 — which is further back than the time frame for which the hospital keeps records.
However, the commission is now looking at the possibility of retrieving data even after the storage was wiped to accommodate new data, sources within the inquiry committee told The Economic Times.
This was the second response from the hospital about the footage, which is different from its previous statement.
Earlier, Apollo Hospitals' executive chairman Prathap C Reddy had said that the CCTV cameras of the ward where Jayalalithaa was admitted were switched off.
"I am sorry but unfortunately all the CCTV cameras were switched off after Jayalalithaa was admitted. Since she was a VVIP person, she was the only person occupying that ward and all other patients were diverted to another ICU. The cameras were switched off because they did not want everybody to be watching," Reddy had told reporters in March this year.
But when Badsha was asked to comment on Reddy's earlier statement, he simply said "that is a different issue."
The Arumughaswamy Commission had even then asked the hospital as to who ordered the CCTV cameras to be switched off. The hospital's response in this regard, if any, has not been made public.
The commission has now asked the hospital's chief operating officer Subbiah Viswanathan to appear before it on 25 September. It has also written to the governor's office to know whether the Raj Bhavan sought any information from AIIMS and Apollo Hospitals on the health of the then chief minister, The New Indian Express reported.
The commission had invited all those with "personal knowledge and direct acquaintance" in the matter to furnish information.
The Arumughaswamy Commission was tasked to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of the former Tamil Nadu chief minister, after suspicions were raised by several of her followers, including current deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. Panneerselvam, who had at the time split from the AIADMK and later unified with the Edappadi Palaniswami-led faction. One of the conditions for the unification was to launch a probe into the death of Jayalalithaa.
The probe panel, set up in September 2017, was extended in December 2017, and subsequently in June this year after it said that all circumstances surrounding Jayalalithaa's death could not be probed within the given time frame.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals for fever and dehydration on 22 September, 2016. After a prolonged hospitalisation, she had died on 5 December, 2016 following a cardiac arrest.
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 12:29:03 IST