The Chennai High Court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking an order to compel the authorities to publicly reveal the health status of hospitalised Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
In dismissing the petition, the first bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice S.K. Kaul warned the petitioner ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy not to use the judicial forum for political purposes.
Chief Justice Kaul and Justice R. Mahadevan said: “No doubt, the health of the Chief Minister would be a concern for the citizens, but then it is pleaded and press reports suggest that medical bulletins are being issued by the hospital. That should suffice rather than any inquisition the petitioner wants to make…”
“A balance has to be maintained between the aspects of privacy and public awareness in this behalf. We feel the regular bulletins from the hospital would suffice and it is up to the state government to see if some more information is required to be put in the public domain.”
The petitioner had submitted that Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital with high fever and a press report was released saying she was on her way to recovery.
But, then, “unfortunately,” suddenly an expert from London Bridge Hospital, Dr. Richard John Beale arrived to treat Jayalalithaa.
The judges said: “We are unable to appreciate what is unfortunate about expert medical opinions sought to be obtained.”
Ramaswamy’s has argued he was disturbed by the developments, but the bench said: “The fact remains that he has filed various PIL pleas, contested elections and is a critic of the current state government. The petition was nothing but publicity interest litigation.”
Opposition DMK has expressed regrets over Tamil Nadu government refusal to provide more details on the health condition of Jayalalithaa.
Party treasurer and state Opposition Leader M.K. Stalin said his father and DMK president M. Karunanidhi had earlier issued a statement, urging the state government to come out with ‘due explanation’ on the chief minister’s health, saying it would “put an end to all rumours” about her wellness.
“But it is regrettable that they have so far not taken a position to release information,” he told reporters.
Stalin also ruled out possibility of him or Karunanidhi meeting the chief minister in Apollo Hospital, saying she was “reportedly” not in a position to do so.
“There was no was no need for such a visit,” he added.
The 68-year-old Jayalalithaa was hospitalised at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai since Sep 22 for fever and dehydration.
On October 2, the hospital had said she was being treated for “infection” and “continues to improve”.
In the most elaborate health bulletin yet on the status of Jayalalithaa undergoing treatment at the hospital, the press release issued on Thursday said the “present treatment regimen includes continued respiratory support, nebulisation, drugs to decongest the lungs, antibiotics, nutrition, general nursing care and supportive therapy.”
Apart from brief mentions of providing respiratory support and a case of infection, the release spoke of the chief minister’s known history of diabetes and winter bronchitis in inclement weather. It added that the patient continued to improve and was making gradual progress.
Even as speculation and rumours spread like wildfire, no one is being allowed to see her, including her relatives.
According to The Times of India, Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar waited for nearly three days – Sep 23, 24 and 25, to meet her aunt chief minister, but was not allowed to do so.
Deepa reportedly said she was told that “some person of high authority” would get in touch with her, but had received no such calls yet.
A few days ago, Jayalalithaa’s step brother N.J. Vasudevan had also attempted to meet her in vain.
According to Deepa, while Jayalalithaa was present at her father (Jayalalithaa’s brother), Jayakumar’s funeral, the chief minister’s relatives had since been kept away from her.
Deepa said that the fact that few people had seen Jayalalithaa in the recent past made her suspect that her illness was a serious condition.
Deepa has been seen attempting to meet Jayalalithaa at other occasions, including when she was released from the Parappana Agrahara prison in connection with the disproportionate assets case, but had never been allowed to interact with Jayalalithaa.