A little fun in lighter vein is different from ragging which would amount to continuous harassment and would necessarily corrode the confidence and efficiency, to such an extent that the victims’ ability and inclination to continue their education and therefore, loss of self control, the Bombay High court said in a 23-page order granting bail to three doctors — Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal — arrested for the alleged abetment to the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi, a second year medical student at Nair Hospital.
While the high court granted bail to the three doctors on August 9, the detailed order was made available on Saturday. In the order, the court said the licences issued to the three doctors by the Medical Council of India as well as Maharashtra Medical Council will remain suspended till conclusion of the trial.
In the order, Justice Sadhana S Jadhav said, “Despite enactment of the Anti Ragging Act, ragging goes on in colleges. The victims face challenge to their very survival. Therefore, it would be necessary to take such an incident seriously so that all the students would learn a lesson and became aware of the sentiments or emotions of the others and deter them from stretching fun too far.”
Referring to the statements read out in the court, mentioning that Ahuja had told a patient that her child must have died in the womb when the latter had disclosed to Ahuja that there was no movement of the foetus, the court said: “This was an extremely insensitive response to any young woman, who was about to deliver a child. The appellants had no sympathy, sensitivity nor a kind word for the patients who came to the hospital.”
The court noted from the statements in the chargesheet that the staff nurses have also claimed that all the three accused doctors’ behaviour was “extremely rude”, that they were “rude in their communication with the staff and humiliated them to the hilt”. Justice Jadhav also observed, “It appears that the accused had lost sight of the fact that the women who come for delivering/pregnancy check-up to the Nair Hospital, hail from lower economic strata. To their utter dismay, they were humiliated and insulted by the appellant (three accused doctors).”
The court added, “Being seniors, the accused/appellants were also insensitive towards the feelings of their colleagues. It appears that the overall nature of the appellant doctors was not befitting their profession. They had capitalised on the timid nature of Dr Payal, who probably was not exposed to such atmosphere, and therefore, instead of retaliating succumbed to the pressure exerted by the appellant doctors.”
The court also noted that the three accused doctors had formed a WhatsApp group of doctors known as “Reminder Group”, on which they circulated humiliating comments against Payal and called her timid and thereby were tarnishing her image.
Justice Jadhav said, “It was the duty of the seniors to make junior doctors feel at home and extend all help to ease the pressure of work, by making them comfortable at their workplace. Instead, the appellants were asking her whether she had secured admission in the reserved category and time and again taunted that she is in their company only because she belongs to the reserved category.”
It added, “Dr Tadvi was told by the accused that they are merit holders and therefore, they cannot tolerate inefficiency from anyone, including Dr Payal and Dr Snehal. The attitude of the appellants had ruined the life of an aspiring doctor.” The court further said that though the issue of atrocity against her caste can be decided at the end of trial, the fact that Payal was being made conscious that she had secured admission from reserved category is prima facie sufficient to make out a case under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.