Jayalalithaa's death: Madras HC dismisses petition challenging appointment of inquiry commission

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of a one-man commission of inquiry, headed by Justice (retd) A Arumugasamy, to probe the death of AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa.

Passing the order, the first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar said it did not want to interfere with the state government order appointing Justice Arumugasamy, a retired Madras High Court judge, as the one-man inquiry commission.

 Jayalalithaas death: Madras HC dismisses petition challenging appointment of inquiry commission

File image of J Jayalalithaa. PTI

The bench rejected the contention of the petitioner that only after a resolution was passed by the state Assembly should the government pass an order appointing such a panel under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.

"It is not mandatory as the provision says it may or shall. The state legislature's resolution is not required. The government notification is sufficient to appoint the one-man commission of inquiry," the bench added.

The court also rejected the petitioner's allegation that there would be 'bias' and every possibility of "influence and pressure" when it comes to a commission constituted by the state government and that the present panel cannot be expected to carry out an independent inquiry.

"A retired judge of the high court is in no way under the control of the state government and there is no reason to believe that the retired judge will not be able to conduct the inquiry independently," it observed.

Petitioner PA Joseph, an AIADMK member, had yesterday contended that the inquiry commission had been set up without complying with the mandatory requirements under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act.

He had submitted that as per the provisions under the section, the opinion of the government and a resolution passed by the Assembly were required for setting up such inquiry panels.

He also claimed that the government order (GO) appointing Justice Arumugasamy as the commission of inquiry was based only on the opinion of the government and there was no Assembly resolution.

Referring to a judgement in the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose case, where a retired judge of the Calcutta High Court was appointed as a one-man commission, the bench said, "A retired high court judge can be appointed as a one-man commission."

The court also said, "The GO appointing Justice Arumugasamy as the one-man commission was not illegal."

The petitioner had submitted that it would only be proper that the central government steps in and constitutes an independent inquiry commission as he had prayed in an earlier writ petition.

The state government had on September 25 appointed Justice Arumugasamy to head the probe panel which would look into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa's
hospitalisation in September last year and the subsequent treatment.

Jayalalithaa, who was the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals here on 22 September, 2016 and she died on December 5.

Doubts have been raised over the events leading to Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation and her death by various quarters with opposition parties, including the DMK, demanding a CBI probe.

O Panneerselvam, at present the deputy chief minister, had demanded a probe as a pre-condition for merger of factions led by him and Chief Minister K Palaniswamy.

Four days ahead of the merger, Palaniswamy had on 17 August announced that a commission of inquiry would go into the death of Jayalalithaa.

Updated Date: Oct 05, 2017 08:59:45 IST