The Madras High Court on Wednesady dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Justice (retd) A Arumugasamy as a one-man commission of inquiry 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.
Rejecting the contention of the petitioner that only after a resolution was passed by the state Assembly should the government pass an order of appointment, the bench said, “It is not mandatory as the provision says it may or shall.”
It said, “The state legislature is not required for appointment of a one-man commission. The government notification itself is sufficient to appoint the commission.”
Petitioner P A Joseph, an AIADMK member, had on Tuesday contended that the inquiry commission had been set up without complying with the mandatory requirements under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.
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 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 September 22, 2016 and she died on December 5, according to the hospital.
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 Palaniswami.
Four days ahead of the merger, Palaniswami had on August 17 announced that a commission of inquiry would go into the death of Jayalalithaa.