Madras High Court on Thursday asked why the body of the late AIADMK laeader, J Jayalalithaa, could not be exhumed.
While hearing a petition on Jayalalithaa’s death, Justice Vaidyalingam said, “After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt. 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.”
Jayalalithaa had died on 5 December after a prolonged illness in Chennai’s Apollo hospital. The cause of her illness has since been an intense topic of media speculations and dominated the political discourse of Tamil Nadu politics.
Justice S Vaidyanathan, who was heading a two-judge vacation bench, said the public should know what has happened. His observations came when the bench, also comprising Justice V Parthiban, was hearing the PIL filed by an AIADMK worker P A Joseph seeking an inquiry commission or a fact- finding committee to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa.
When a special mention was made before the bench by senior counsel KM Vijayan who argued on the plea, Advocate General Muthukumaraswamy said there is no mystery in the death.
Justice Vaidyanathan asked the AG, “What is that you say. Right to live is a Fundamental Right. Public should know what has happened.”
“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.
Turning to counsel J Madanagopala Rao, who appeared on behalf of Union Government, 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 bench said, “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.”
The bench then recorded the acceptance of notice by counsel for Union government on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministries of Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and CBI and posted the matter for further hearing to 9 January.
The PIL had sought a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including Jayalalithaa’s sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death on 5 December.
The PIL listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospitals here on 22 September and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.
On Wednesday, one of Jaya’s loyalists had alleged that the late leader was poisoned.
Speaking to India Today, Shihhan Hussaini had said, “Everyone knows that Jayalalithaa was murdered. We want to find out who was the conspirator.”
Hussaini had called for exhuming of Jayalalithaa’s body to investigate the real reason of her death.
Today’s development came just after the AIADMK elected VK Sasikala, a close confidante of Jayalalithaa, as the new general secretary of the party.
(With additional inputs from PTI)