Stating that an accused doctor facing charges of abetment to suicide and caste-based harassment of Dr Payal Tadvi is “taking shelter behind the veil of being a doctor and the spread of the pandemic”, the Mumbai police on Monday opposed the exemption application filed by Dr Hema Ahuja before a special court last month.
Ahuja, a post-graduate student at the TN Topiwala National Medical College, in her plea had sought that she be exempted from appearing before the court till the charges are framed in the case with reasons including her Covid duty at the Topiwala National Medical College.
The reply filed to the plea through special public prosecutor, Pradip D Gharat, states that the reason given of her duty at the hospital is a “sheer excuse” to avoid the appearance in the trial. The Supreme Court had last month allowed the three accused doctors-Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal-to continue with their post-graduate studies at the same institute. The medical licences to practice have also been restored to them pending inquiry in March this year.
“It is worth to be considered that during the lock down, when the services of the doctor were very much needed….she (Ahuja) was not in Mumbai and she did not take any stand before any forum that her services as a doctor are most needed in Mumbai or she herself is eager to serve the ailing patients,” the reply states claiming that Ahuja had then sought to be allowed to continue with her post-graduate studies. The reply says that since she is facing a serious case, she has to remain present on all dates of the hearing and she cannot be granted exemption.
In her plea, Ahuja had said that the court was hearing various applications filed by her and the other accused and hence her presence will not be required at this stage when the trial is yet to begin. Ahuja had also said that there was “unwarranted media hype” after the unfortunate death of her colleague. The reply by the prosecution says this contention cannot be accepted.
“…since the chargesheet shows that she, along with her two co-accused is directly responsible for the suicide committed by Dr. Payal Tadvi who has named her directly and clearly held her responsible for suicide as per her suicide note. The accused no. 2 and her co-accused also tried to destroy the evidence against them apart from the other serious charges leveled against them under the other Acts,” the reply says.
The three face charges under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Maharashtra
Prohibition of Ragging Act, abetment of suicide, destruction of evidence and common intent under the Indian Penal Code after Tadvi, who was found dead in her hostel room on May 22 last year, named them in her suicide note stating that they would constantly harass her.
The reply also refers to the Supreme Court order which had directed the accused to remain present for all dates except on rare occasions if the circumstances reflect unavoidable reasons.
Tadvi’s mother, Abeda, who is a complainant in the case, has also filed a reply opposing the exemption plea.
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