The state government on Tuesday opposed a plea filed before the Supreme Court by three doctors, accused of abetting the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi and indulging in caste-based harassment against her, seeking to continue with their studies by being permitted to be transferred to any other institution in the city, as they have already been suspended by BYL Nair Hospital, where they were undergoing postgraduation.
An affidavit filed by the Maharashtra deputy secretary (Medical Education) stated that an anti-ragging committee of Nair hospital, in its report on May 25, 2019, had found postgraduate medical students Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal to have committed ragging of Tadvi, their junior.
“As the petitioners (three doctors) are already suspended from the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, therefore, they cannot be accommodated at any other college/hospital during the subsistence of the said suspension order,” the affidavit added.
It said that the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Maharashtra University of Medical Sciences are the competent authorities under law to take a decision on allowing migration of postgraduate students to another institution.
The MCI had earlier submitted that such mid-term migration is not permissible as per its rules. Following this, the SC had directed the state to respond to the plea of the accused and directed the authorities to submit a list of medical colleges where they three could migrate.
The state, in its affidavit, also said that there was “no pressing urgency” to permit their migration, as the three doctors can pursue the course after conclusion of the trial, which has been expedited. It added that the three have an MBBS degree and are “at liberty to practice their medical profession”.
The Maharashtra Medical Council had restored their suspended license pending inquiry in March following a Bombay High Court order. Tadvi’s mother, Abeda, who is the complainant in the case, has opposed this.
Tadvi, who belonged to the Tadvi Bhil community of Scheduled Tribes, was found dead in her hostel room on May 22 last year. She had named the three doctors in her suicide note.
Another affidavit filed by the assistant commissioner of police probing the case under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act also opposed the plea stating that the prosecution seeks to examine nearly 60 witnesses in the trial, which has been directed to be concluded within 10 months of the charges being framed against the accused.
The officer submitted that there is serious objection to the three women continuing their studies at Nair hospital since the witnesses in the case are also from the same institute.
The three doctors, in their plea, have said they be permitted to study at another institute or be transferred to a new hospital to help in “balancing the rights” of the accused and the complainant “to ensure a fair trial”. The SC will hear the case next week.
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