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Expressing doubts over the circumstances leading to death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, a Madras High Court judge indicated that he may order exhumation of the body after a plea before the court sought a probe by an inquiry commission or a factfinding committee. Justice S Vaidyanathan, who was heading a twojudge 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 factfinding committee to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa. “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,” Justice Vaidyanathan said. 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.

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 January 9.

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 December 5.