December 14, 2021 9:01:08 pm
The Bombay High Court allowed the interim applications by Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal, accused in the Dr Payal Tadvi suicide case, seeking modification of their bail conditions to reside at their residence outside Mumbai.
The court directed the duo to inform the trial court within two weeks of the address of their proposed residence along with contact details.
Tadvi, a postgraduate gynaecology student at TN Topiwala National Medical College in the city, died by suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room at BYL Nair Hospital on May 22, 2019. The hospital is attached to Topiwala medical college. Her family had accused Mehare and Khandelwal, her seniors, of harassment and caste discrimination.
The High Court on August 9, 2019, granted conditional bail to the accused. The conditions imposed included that the applicants shall not leave Mumbai without the permission of the court and shall report to the Crime Branch office every alternate day till framing of charges against them.
A single-judge bench of Justice Sandeep K Shinde was informed by advocate Sarthak P Shetty that Mehare is pursuing her postgraduation in obstetrics and gynaecology, is a junior resident-III in Nair Hospital and is staying at hostel facility of the hospital, while her parents are residing in Amravati. Advocate Sudeep Pasbola for Khandelwal said she is also a postgraduate student at Nair Hospital staying in the hostel.
The applicants on December 7 had contended that their postgraduation course would end on December 10, after which they would have to vacate the hostel room, and they have no other place to reside in Mumbai.
It was added that since the trial in the case is unlikely to conclude in the near future, it may not be possible for them to continue to stay in Mumbai and so, they should be permitted to reside in their respective home districts and sought relaxation of bail conditions.
Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep D Gharat opposed the plea and contended that if they are permitted to leave Mumbai and reside at their native places, the possibility of delay in trial on account of their absence cannot be ruled out.
He added that nearly all prosecution witnesses are resident doctors and if trial is not concluded within reasonable time, the witnesses may leave the hospital and it will be difficult to secure their presence for trial.
After perusing submissions, Justice Shinde noted in the order, “In the first place, the applicants do not have a permanent place to reside in Mumbai…Till date the trial has not commenced. Indisputably, after their postgraduation course gets over, applicants have to vacate the hostel premises. In the circumstances, the applicants cannot be compelled to stay in Mumbai until the trial is concluded.”
“Instead, I deem it appropriate to permit the applicants to stay at their native place and obtain undertaking that they shall remain present in the trial, unless their presence is exempted by the trial court. In my view, the undertaking would take care of the apprehension of the prosecution and of the complainant as expressed by them,” the judge added and disposed of the pleas.
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