The death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa is back in the news. The Supreme Court has ordered a Medical Board, headed by the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, to assist the Commission which is probing her death.

The apex court's decision is based on an appeal by Apollo Hospitals, where Jayalalithaa was treated. Earlier, the Madras High Court in April 2019 and the Inquiry Commission in January 2019, had rejected appeals from the hospital to constitute a Medical Board to assist the enquiry.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo hospital in Chennai in an emergency condition in September 2016 and died 74 days later on December 5. After her party members raised suspicions about her death, the Tamil Nadu government set up an Inquiry Commission, headed by a retired judge Arumughaswamy, on September 25, 2017. Current TN Chief Minister MK Stalin had also promised to inquire into Jayalalithaa's death during the election campaigns.

Apollo says despite its co-operation, the primary concern of the doctors and hospital was that the Commission was not equipped with the expertise to inquire into highly complex medical facts and the inquiry was going off the rails. In January 2018, the hospital produced in the Commission, 30 volumes of medical records, close to 6,000 pages, and all other material relating to the treatment of the late CM in the hospital until her demise. "To date, 56 Apollo doctors, 22 paramedical and support staff of Apollo Hospitals have appeared before the Commission and submitted their oral evidence," says Apollo.

The late CM suffered from multiple issues and was treated by doctors from Apollo Hospitals and other experts in India and overseas. Saying the analysis should be undertaken only by equally qualified peers, the hospital has been asking for a Medical Board.

"Apollo has always extended its support and co-operation in the ongoing inquiry and it shall continue to do the same in the proceedings to follow. The SC decision fully vindicates the position taken earlier by Apollo Hospitals that a team of medical experts should have been constituted to aid the Commission in its process. The order of the Supreme Court has buttressed the Inquiry Commission with sufficient checks and balances to enable the inquiry to be now conducted in a fair, accurate and efficacious manner," Apollo Hospitals said in a statement.

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