The Lede
Doctors Were “Asked To Diagnose Heart Conditions Based On YouTube Video” Of Jayalalithaa: Affidavit

Doctors Were “Asked To Diagnose Heart Conditions Based On YouTube Video” Of Jayalalithaa: Affidavit

Sandhya Ravishankar

Sandhya Ravishankar

The video was taken months before the admission of the late Chief Minister, doctors tell court, as they allege “badgering” and “bias” on the part of the Arumughaswamy Commission

The Lede told you on Thursday about how the Madras High Court had not taken into account a common affidavit filed by 32 doctors of Apollo Hospitals, that detailed their grievances against the Arumughaswamy Commission probing Jayalalithaa’s death.

On 15 February 2019, these doctors filed an affidavit before court stating that they were “…taken aback by the entire line of questioning and manner in which the proceedings were recorded and the treatment meted out to them, on several occasions. Several doctors faced an inquisitional manner of questioning almost as if the” Commission “had already decided the treating doctors were involved in covering-up a larger conspiracy that was a cover-up for inadequate or incorrect treatment provided to the Late Hon’ble Chief Minister. They were shocked by the allegations filed in Application No. 214/2018 filed by the Counsel to the” Commission “of “collusion”, “conspiracy”, “inaction”, “inappropriate” treatment.”

The doctors, including a Padma Vibushan awardee, as well as other senior consultants and specialists, wrote to the Bench comprising Justices Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy about the poor manner in which they had been allegedly treated by the Arumughaswamy Commission. Here is what they said below.

  • “Statements and evidence” given by the doctors “could not be sufficiently comprehended by” the Commission “and more so were not recorded in their entirety by the Commission, leading to gross selective misrepresentation of medical science and the Late Hon’ble Chief Minister’s health condition and treatment.”
  • “Several suggestions and questions framed in the examination-in-chief and re-examination to several doctors, with the sole aim of questioning the credibility and attributing ulterior motives to the doctors.”
  • “Suggestions and questions framed with the aid of internet-based sources and textbooks, without comprehending the context and the status of the patient at the time of giving treatment.”
  • “Answers taken out of context and recorded in a manner that distorted the version of the doctors.”
  • “Complete lack of understanding of complexities of medical science despite clarifications and validations by experts.”
  • “Veracity, competency, expertise, experience and integrity of expert medical professionals questioned and challenged repeatedly.”
  • “A specialist in one field asked to comment on the statements made by a non-specialist and at times even a non-medical professional.”
  • “Asked to diagnose heart conditions based on YouTube video taken months before admission of the patient.”
  • “Depositions of other expert witnesses cross-referenced without context.”
  • “Depositions recorded in Tamil despite the fact we were not fluent in the language.”
  • “Some of the medical terminologies and methodologies explained in English – lost in translation.”
  • “Spelling/typographical errors that change the import of the statements. Objection raised at the time of deposing not taken into consideration.”
  • “An aggressive line of questioning in a manner that indicated the Commission had already made up its mind that the doctors were liable.”
  • “Attributing motives for choosing one course of medical treatment over the other when such a decision would have been made solely taking into consideration the best interests of the Late Hon’ble Chief Minister.”
  • “The confrontational manner in which doctors were badgered for many hours did not create a situation for accurate/proper recording of evidence.”

However, the court did not refer to this affidavit in its order. Instead, the Bench relied on a document filed by the Commission to state that the doctors had been treated well – “The applicant hospital summoned doctors were treated by the commission as guest by providing chair and they have been given most respect with dignity…”

The Bench also observed that a Commission of Inquiry was within its rights to conduct “proceedings in a manner the commission desires and when some questions are to be put to the witness, that too in the presence of the counsel for the witness, it cannot be said that the second respondent has intentionally, in order to either degrade the witness or to test the efficiency of the

witness, has posed the questions.”

“At the best, it cannot be said that the Commission had wantonly to harass the witnesses had put some question much to the inconvenience of the witness. The posing of questions to the witnesses were in good faith to ascertain certain information from them and it cannot be construed as an attempt on the part of the second respondent to prejudice the witnesses.

Therefore, we are not inclined to accept the submissions made on behalf of the petitioner that the witnesses were wantonly, wilfully and deliberately harassed by the second respondent during the course of inquiry proceedings,” read the order.

Editor’s Note: Retired judge Arumughaswamy, after having respectfully provided a chair to these doctors, appears to have gone on to make wild accusations, perhaps with a filmy notion that they might ‘break down and confess’ to a crime, imagined or otherwise.

What is for sure is that the retired judge badgered and harassed a former Health Secretary of State, accusing him of collusion and conspiracy. The senior-ranking officer could not even respond as per conduct rules, when Ministers quoted the commission application and hurled wild allegations against him.

It is clear that Arumughaswamy needs to conduct himself with dignity and professionalism, and adhere strictly to the norms of decency and non-partisanship which his erstwhile profession demands of him.