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Above: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa

It has been alleged that a bypoll form was submitted bearing the forged thumb impression of the late AIADMK leader

The mystery about why former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa attested the election form of Party candidate AK Bose with a thumb impression and not her signature has deepened. Doubts are now being raised about whether the thumb impression was genuine and about the manner in which it had been obtained.

Under normal circumstances this would not have been an issue. Thumb impressions are as legal as signatures. However, while the thumb impression was given sometime in early October by the AIADMK leader, Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22, 2016 and died at Chennai’s Apollo hospital on December 5. There are two problems in this. First, there is very little information available as to the real nature of illness of Jayalalithaa and on what exactly was her condition while attesting the form. Secondly, the thumb impression was authenticated by Dr P Balaji, a professor at Madras Medical College, and not by any forensic expert.

The hospital has maintained that when the document was brought to Jayalalithaa for her signature – Bose was contesting for an assembly bypoll from Thirupparankundram – her right hand was swollen and inflamed (media reports had then quoted a hospital press release, saying: “Jayalalithaa has undergone a tracheotomy and has an inflamed right hand, temporarily unable to affix signature and has used her left hand to give the thumb impression”). Hence she could not sign, but gave her thumb impression instead. Such an impression has also been seen on a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer about her party’s official candidates for the November 19 by-elections. Bose had won the seat.

Now the doubt has been taken to court. DMK, the party in Opposition, has alleged violation of poll procedure, with Bose’s DMK rival P Sarvanan challenging his election in the high court. On Wednesday (September 27) the Madras High Court’s Justice P Velumurugan summoned the Election Commission of India principal secretary to clarify to the court if it had authorised the doctor attending on Jayalalithaa to attest her thumb impression.

Interestingly, the idea of a possible forgery was first mooted by Jayalalithaa’s friend, the now-jailed Sasikala Pushpa. She had warned during the time of Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation that there was a chance of forgery. She had urged the Governor to authenticate any documents that came out of Apollo hospital.

—India Legal Bureau

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