On Thursday (08 October 2020), Supreme Court allowed the doctors who are accused of abetting the suicide of Dr. Payal Tadvi to re-enter the college and the hospital to pursue their courses of study further. The three doctors who were accused of abetting the suicide, Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal, Dr. Hema Suresh Ahuja, and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare, humiliated and passed contemptuous and defamatory comments about Dr. PayalTadvi’s caste. The Bombay High Court, while granting conditional bail has said that the accused doctors will not be allowed inside the BYL Nair Hospital premises during the bail period.
The bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Vineet Saran, and Ajay Rastogi observed while allowing their appeals said that, “if the law presumes an accused to be innocent till his guilt is proved, the appellants as presumably innocent persons, are entitled to all the fundamental rights including the right to liberty guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution and entitled to pursue their course of study so long as the exercise of a said right does not hamper smooth conduct and project of the prosecution.” Earlier, the Court asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) about giving permission to the accused doctors to migrate them to any other college or institution but the MCI submitted before the Court, that students who registered themselves for Post Graduate medical courses are supposed to be under a particular guide and complete the entire course under the supervision of that guide only. Therefore, “under no circumstances, migration is permissible” for students undergoing Post Graduate medical courses said the MCI to the Court.
It was also told by the bench that an order of suspension was passed against these doctors. The bench of so that, “As a matter of fact, the order of Suspension was not passed by virtue of power entrusted under Section 6(1) of 1999 Act but was based on the grounds that the Appellants were creating hurdles in the enquiry by the police and that there was an FIR against them. We, thus, conclude that the Order of Suspension is not referable to Section 6(1) of the 1999 Act. Since the Order of Suspension was passed purely as a result of the registration of crime and did not have any roots in statutory powers conferred under Section 6 of the 1999 Act, in our view, this Court can certainly grant redress to the Appellants.” While allowing the plea, the court said that “While balancing the competing claims, in our view, the Appellants must be allowed to go back to their courses of study otherwise the pendency of prosecution against them will add a further penalty in the form of prejudicing their career. Any such adverse impact will negate their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.” Further, the bench imposed the following conditions:
- The Appellants shall not, in any manner, influence or even attempt to influence any of the witnesses.
- The Appellants shall present themselves on each of the dates that the matter gets posted before the Trial Court unless their presence is specifically exempted.
- If it is permissible and subject to the appropriate permission from the Dean of the College and the Hospital, the Appellants may not reside in the quarters allocated to the residents in the College and the Hospital. However, if the registration as Post Graduate students requires the Appellants to be full-time residents in the College and the Hospital, then the Appellants shall do so.
- The Appellants shall avail study leave, as suggested by Mr. Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior Advocate so that their actual period of stay inside the College and the Hospital gets reduced to the maximum possible level.
- If there be any holiday or vacation and it is permissible for the residents to be outside the College and the Hospital, the Appellants shall avail that and keep themselves away from the Hospital and the College.
- If there be any untoward incident as apprehended by Dr. Ganesh Shinde, Head of Department, or even likelihood of such an incident, the concerned authorities shall immediately report to the Police Station of the area and ensure that the life and liberty of everyone including the Appellants are well protected.