Chennai: In a surprise move, the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission, probing the hospitalisation and death of former CM Jayalalithaa, issued a gag order on Tuesday forbidding the media from telecasting any content relating to the terms of reference of the Commission without obtaining permission from it.
Recalling the 'terms of reference' laid down by the state government while constituting the Commission "to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation" of Jayalalithaa on Sept. 22, 2016 and "subsequent treatment provided till her unfortunate demise on Dec. 5, 2016", the Commission's secretary, in a statement, said the "Press as well as the Media" are prohibited from telecasting any news or serial or any debate pertaining to the aforesaid terms of the Commission of Inquiry without obtaining the Commission's prior permission.
"If any violation or deviation in this regard is noticed by the Commission, it will be viewed seriously and consequently appropriate action will be taken against those violating persons in accordance with law", said the Commission secretary.
Since the press statement has categorically ruled out "telecasting" any news or serial or any debate pertaining to the Jaya probe, there was some confusion whether printing reports pertaining to the issue is also forbidden if the Commission permission is not obtained.
Observers feel that the Commission's gag order could have something to do with Jaya's death anniversary falling on Wednesday (Dec. 5), when it is expected that the media would have special articles and TV content on the last days of the charismatic AIADMK leader. Some of that content could be controversial and border on infringing upon the Commission's probe, which Justice Arumughaswamy would like to avoid.
Also, it is possible that the media could undertake an 'audit' of the Commission's progress since its formation in Sept., 2017 and through its -June 2017, Dec. 2017 and Oct. 24, 2018 for four months. It is likely that the Commission wanted to avoid such controversial commentary in the media.
The Commission secretary's statement also referred to a counter-affidavit filed by the counsel for Sun TV Networks Limited and said the latter gave an undertaking that the channel "will not telecast the programme in their Sun TV Network without prior permission from the Court".