The Mumbai police crime branch today filed a 1203-page chargesheet in three volumes against the three doctors booked for the alleged abetment of suicide and caste-based discrimination of their junior Dr Payal Tadvi.
Doctors Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal are named in the chargesheet with the police claiming that they committed offences under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, Information Technology Act and abetment of suicide, destruction of evidence and common intent under the Indian Penal Code.
To prove the charges, the police has attached statements of nearly 180 witnesses in addition to the suicide note that was retrieved from Payal’s mobile phone.
The police in its chargesheet have also included statements of Payal’s colleagues, other staff members and seniors of the hospital. One of the crucial statements is that of Payal’s friend, Snehal, who has told the police that Payal was harassed by the accused who targeted her for belonging to a Scheduled Tribe, the Bhil Tadvi community.
Further, other evidence includes witnesses to the incident on the day of the suicide, when Payal was allegedly shouted at in the presence of other staff members and patients.
The police will also annex the copies of the three-page suicide note found on Payal’s phone, which she had taken photographs on her phone at 5.04pm, a few minutes after she received a call from Ahuja at 4.51pm. The call which lasted 121 seconds was the last call received by Payal before committing suicide.
The CCTV footage of the eighth floor corridor outside Payal’s room, where the three accused are allegedly seen entering Payal’s room after she was shifted to the trauma room, will also be crucial evidence. The bail application of the three accused was rejected on June 24. They have appealed against the trial court’s order which will come up for hearing on Tuesday in the Bombay High Court.
On May 22, at around 9pm, Payal was found hanging by the ceiling fan of her hostel room at the BYL Nair General Hospital in Mumbai central.
After initially registering an accidental death record, the Agripada police lodged an FIR on the next day against the three accused based on the complaint of Payal’s mother Abeda, a Jalgaon resident. Abeda had told the police that her daughter was harassed, humiliated by the three accused constantly and had eventually committed suicide.
The three accused were subsequently arrested on May 28-29 after they remained absconding since the FIR was filed.