OVER THREE years after JJ Hospital dean Dr T P Lahane was booked for allegedly making a casteist remark about a staffer, the prosecution has dropped the list of witnesses after two, including the complainant, turned hostile. On Monday, an eyewitness in the case, Lalit Solanki, began his deposition. The prosecution declared him hostile after he did not support its case.
The special court was also informed that there was an apprehension that other witnesses were not going to support the case either, since the complainant claims to have come to a “compromise out of court”. The prosecution will now examine the investigating officer. Lahane will then be expected to speak on his behalf under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code. After that, the prosecution and defence will conclude their arguments and the court will pass its judgment.
In February 2014, around 500-600 employees working on a temporary basis at JJ Hospital had gone on a strike to seek permanent jobs. According to the initial complaint, the complainant, Naresh Waghela, along with his friends was standing outside the Outpatients Department on February 14, 2014. He had said that he saw a sweeper working, and went to convince him to support the strike. He claimed that Lahane and other staff told him and his friends to leave and let those who wanted to work continue. While in the FIR, the complainant had said that Lahane then abused him with a casteist remark, in his deposition he said that the part of the complaint was “not correct”.
Even as Lahane’s discharge application before the special court was pending, the complainant in March this year submitted that he wanted to withdraw the complaint. He initially made an oral submission, after which the court directed him to file an affidavit. In his subsequent affidavit, Waghela claimed that the complaint was filed in a state of “misunderstanding”. He also submitted that he was not under any pressure, force or intimidation in taking the decision.
Since the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act under which Lahane is booked is non-compoundable, the court directed for the trial to continue.