The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought the assistance of the Dean of BYL Nair hospital and head of its gynaecology department on whether Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal, the accused doctors out on bail in the Dr Payal Tadvi suicide case, can be shifted to some other unit of the hospital to complete their post-graduation in gynecology. The high court also observed that the right to education of the accused can’t be taken away.
A single judge bench of Justice Sadhana S Jadhav said it will pass an order on an application filed by the accused, seeking permission to complete their post-graduation at the civic-run BYL Nair hospital.
Tadvi, a postgraduate gynaecology student at TN Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai, committed suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room in BYL Nair hospital on May 22 last year. The hospital is attached to Topiwala medical college. Her family has accused Ahuja, Mehere and Khandelwal, her seniors, of harassment and caste discrimination.
The high court on August 9 last year had granted conditional bail to the accused. The conditions imposed include bar on entering BYL Nair hospital and Topiwala medical college. Moreover, the medical licences of the accused have been suspended until conclusion of trial.
Senior counsel Aabad Ponda sought relaxation of bail conditions and submitted that the accused have to complete their final year of post-graduation and need permission to enter the hospital. The bench posed a query if it would be right for the accused to be back in the same college. “The social impact of the case was so much that they (accused) should not face wrath. From whatever they have done, we cannot take away their right to education,” Justice Jadhav said.
“It is true that the victim has lost her life and right to education. No one at the hospital is going to welcome them (accused) with open arms. Our society is not the one to go for an eye for an eye. They (accused) should also not face harassment,” she noted.
Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare, however, opposed the plea and said there are several witnesses still working in the hospital and the accused can complete their post-graduation from elsewhere. That they all would be working together and, therefore, the remotest possibility of tampering of witnesses shall be ruled out, Thakare argued.
State government lawyer P P Shinde submitted that the prosecution will take appropriate instructions from the medical college as to whether the accused can pursue their post-graduation in a different unit.
“The conditions were imposed and observations passed because it was high time that people realise lack of sensitivity on the part of accused,” the high court said.
It also noted that the prosecution can seek cancellation of bail if the conditions are not cogently met. Considering submissions, it noted that it would be in the interest of justice to seek assistance from the gynecology department of Nair Hospital. The judge directed the gynaecology department head to remain present in court and said it will pass an appropriate order on Friday.
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