Payal Tadvi
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The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed three women doctors from Mumbai accused of abetting the suicide of a junior colleague last year to resume their postgraduate medical course in gynaecology and obstetrics, relaxing a restriction imposed on them by the Bombay high court.

Payal Tadvi
Payal Tadvi

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed three women doctors from Mumbai accused of abetting the suicide of a junior colleague last year to resume their postgraduate medical course in gynaecology and obstetrics, relaxing a restriction imposed on them by the Bombay high court.

A three-judge bench headed by justice UU Lalit ruled that the three, Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal, Dr. Hema Suresh Ahuja and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare, can go back to their studies provided they appear in court whenever the case is posted for a hearing and don’t attempt to influence witnesses.

The three were accused of abetting the suicide of Dr. Payal Tadvi, who was also a student of the postgraduate degree course in gynaecology and obstetrics at the same college and their junior, who killed herself by hanging in May 2019.

The Bombay high court, while granting bail to the doctors, had stipulated that they should not enter the Topiwala National Medical College (BYL Nair Charitable Hospital), where they were pursuing their postgraduate studies.

“In our view, the appellants (accused) must be allowed to go back to their courses of study; otherwise the pendency of prosecution against them will add further penalty in the form of prejudicing their career. In our considered view, ends of justice would be met if condition no. 4 as laid down by the high court is relaxed and the appellants are permitted to go back to the college to pursue their studies,” the Supreme Court bench, which also comprised justices Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi, held.

After Dr. Tadvi’s suicide, her mother lodged a complaint that she had been harassed by the three senior postgraduate students on grounds of caste — Dr.Tadvi belonged to the Tadvi Bhil Muslim community, which is a scheduled tribe and that they were directly responsible for the suicide of her daughter.

The accused were then charged with abetment to suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code and also for offences under provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 and the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act of 1999. They were arrested on May 29, 2019.

Their bail plea was rejected by the sessions court on June 24, 2019, but was allowed by the Bombay high court on August 7, 2019. The high court , however, ordered that the three shall not enter the college and the licences issued to them by the Medical Council of India as well as Maharashtra Medical Council would remained suspended until the conclusion of the trial in the case.

The top court, while relaxing the stipulation, said the stay of the three accused on campus should be minimized as much as possible.

“The appellants shall avail study leave so that their actual period of stay inside the college and the hospital gets reduced…If there be any holiday or vacation and it is permissible for the residents to be outside the college and hospital, the appellants shall avail that and keep themselves away from the hospital and the college,” the court said.

If any untoward incident takes place, the authorities should immediately report to the police station of the area and ensure that the life and liberty of everyone, including the accused, are protected, it added.


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