AIIMS director asked to set up board on PC's condition

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram. (PTI File Photo)

New Delhi, Oct 31 (PTI) The Delhi High Court directed the AIIMS director to constitute a medical board on Thursday itself to give opinion on the health of former finance minister P Chidambaram, who is suffering from Crohn's disease and is currently lodged in Tihar jail in the INX Media money laundering case.

The high court said that the Hyderabad-based gastroenterologist Nageshwar Reddy, who has been treating the 74-year old Congress leader, be included in the board to give his opinion on Chidambaram's medical condition.

Chidambaram has sought interim bail in the case, filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), on medical grounds saying his condition is deteriorating and he needs to be in a sterile environment.

Justice Suresh Kait directed that the board will sit Thursday to discuss Chidambaram's medical condition and place the report before the court which will hear the matter on Friday.

Chidambaram has sought interim relief for six days to enable him to consult and get examined by his regular doctor, Reddy, at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG) in Hyderabad.

He has claimed that he needs "urgent medical treatment for the acute and persistent abdominal pain being experienced" by him since October 5 due to Crohn's disease which he was diagnosed with in 2017.

Crohn's disease refers to the inflammation of the digestive tract leading to abdominal pain, diarrhoea and also weight loss.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chidambaram, initially said the Congress leader has to be taken to Hyderabad for the treatment at his expenses as his condition requires sterile environment.

Later, he suggested that Chidambaram be shifted to Apollo Hospital or Reddy be called here.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, also appearing for Chidambaram, said his weight has reduced from 73 kg to 66 kg, this showed that his condition was deteriorating in custody.

The court and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that Chidambaram can be treated and shifted to a private ward in AIIMS, if need arises, as the premier institution has the best doctors.

The law officer said there can be no objection to the treatment and best treatment should be given to every accused.

Mehta said it is Chidambaram's old ailment which has been aggravated and the best team of doctors at AIIMS is treating him.

When Sibal insisted that Chidambaram be shifted from Tihar jail to AIIMS private ward today itself, Mehta said the leader was examined by doctors on Wednesday and they did not advice admitting him to hospital.

An anguished Sibal said he is withdrawing the plea and they don't want anything as he was "surprised that this government does not want to give a sterile environment to a person".

This irked the judge who said, "okay the application is dismissed as withdrawn" and added "this attitude is not right. An advocate of such a stature is behaving like this".

Later, another advocate for Chidambaram tried to pacify the situation and submitted before the court that the order may be passed in the matter .

The court in its order directed the AIIMS medical board to give opinion on Chidambaram's condition, especially on whether he requires admission in sterile environment at the hospital.

It asked the AIIMS director to constitute the board by 4 pm and the team of doctors will include Reddy.

The court made it clear that the board will meet at 7 pm and if Reddy is unable to reach here from Hyderabad, the board will sit on Friday at 10 am and give its opinion.

The interim bail application was filed in Chidambaram's pending bail plea which is listed for hearing on November 4.

According to his interim bail plea, he was examined at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on October 7 and was prescribed an antibiotic and painkillers after which the abdominal pain subsided.

Thereafter, the problem recurred on October 22 and he was examined on October 23 at AIIMS and prescribed a new set of medicines. However, there was no relief from the pain, the application has contended.

Subsequently, he was examined again at AIIMS on October 24 and October 26 and tests were conducted at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on October 28, it has said.

After the medical test, Chidambaram has been put on steroid treatment for next 16 weeks, the application has said and added that as his body was not responding to treatment prescribed at AIIMS and hence he be allowed to consult his regular doctor at AIG.

It has also said that his medical reports were sent to his regular doctor by e-mail and after perusing the same, the doctor has said that the inflammation has increased and Chidambaram needs immediate treatment in a sterile environment.

The plea for interim relief has been moved by Chidambaram in his application seeking regular bail in the INX Media money-laundering case in which he is presently in ED custody.

Chidambaram, who was sent to Tihar jail on Wednesday till November 13 by the trial court in the INX Media money laundering case, was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case.

The case was registered on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as Union finance minister.

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