The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea challenging Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set up a one-man Commission to probe the death of AIADMK chief and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud dismissed the plea filed by a Chennai-based P A Joseph alleging that there was a possibility of undue influence and bias as the panel was set up by the state government itself without any resolution passed by the state assembly. The state government has set up the panel headed by Justice A Arumughaswamy, a former Madras High Court judge, to probe the death of Jayalalithaa on December 6, 2016 at a private hospital in Chennai. “Your (Joseph) challenge has been accepted by the High Court. Do you want the inquiry to go on or you do not want the inquiry,” the bench asked. When the lawyer for Joseph replied in affirmative, the bench made it clear that it would not entertain the appeal against the High Court order. Joseph, in his appeal, had said, “party MLAs are involved in the whole episode of hospitalisation, treatment, death of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa. There is every possibility of influence, pressure, bias when it comes to a commission constituted by the state government themselves, the present commission cannot be expected to do an independent inquiry…”.
The petition had alleged that Madras High Court had erred in holding that a resolution from the legislature was not mandatory and a mere opinion of the government itself was enough to constitute a commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. The plea said that the prior resolution by Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly is mandated under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. It alleged that the Commission of Inquiry was set up by the Tamil Nadu government unilaterally without prior legislative debate or resolution. Joseph moved the apex court after the High Court dismissed the allegations on October 4.