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He said late Jayalalithaa on September 27, 2016 instructed her government secretaries, including him, on the Cauvery issue from the Apollo Hospital bed where she was admitted on September 22 that year.
The former chief secretary told reporters that he recounted this meeting during his cross-examination by counsel for Sasikala today at the panel.
He said he told the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry that then Advocate General R Muthukumaraswamy also participated in the meeting in 2016.
“She spoke with zest on protecting Tamil Nadu’s rights on Cauvery,” Rao said, adding that her instructions to them covered the stand to be taken in the Supreme Court and arguments to be adduced to get the Centre to form the Cauvery Management Board.
“I was asked about her frame of mind that day and if she had given instructions on Cauvery. I deposed saying she was in a good frame of mind and gave instruction on the matter,” Rao said, adding the meeting was held between 4pm and 6pm that day.
The former top bureaucrat said Jayalalithaa also asked about the action being pursued by them.
To a question, he said, “I did not give any political opinion. I gave my answers to questions during cross-examination.”
Counsel for the jailed leader VK Sasikala, N Raja Senthoor Pandian, said that in the event of the Commission not inquiring key witnesses, “however big they may be like chief minister K Palaniswami or deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, we will examine them after making due representation to the Commission.”
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals for fever and dehydration on September 22, 2016. After a prolonged hospitalisation, which stretched to 75 days, she died on December 5, 2016.
The Tamil Nadu government constituted the Commission of Inquiry last September under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, to go into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s death.
The panel’s terms of reference was to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa (on September 22, 2016), and treatment provided till her demise on December 5 last year.
The Commission had invited all those having “personal knowledge and direct acquaintance” in the matter to furnish information to it till today.
Following Jayalalithaa’s death, suspicion on the circumstances leading to her demise was raised by several persons, including the present deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and his followers.
Then a rebel party leader, Panneerselvam and his followers had demanded a probe into her death, either a judicial inquiry or a CBI probe.
After the unification of the factions led by chief minister K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, the government constituted the panel.
The probe was a key condition put forth by the Panneerselvam faction for merger.