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Permission to re-enter college and resume studies to accused doctors in Payal Tadvi Suicide Case: SC

In the case of Ankita Kailash Khandelwal And Ors. V. State Of Maharashtra And Others (Criminal Appeal Nos.660-662 Of 2020), by the judgment dated on 08-10-2020, the Supreme Court had allowed the accused doctors to re-enter college and resume studies. The judgment was given by Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Vineet Saran & Ajay Rastogi.

The facts of the case are that Dr. Payal Tadvi was a student of Post Graduate Degree Course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in the College. She was the first year of the course in April 2019.  She was thus a year junior to the Appellants. All of them were residents in the same Department and pursuing the same course.  The Appellants after completing the MBBS course and were pursuing a Post Graduate Degree course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai.  They completed two years out of three years of course in April 2019 and were working as residents in B.Y.L. Nair Charity Hospital attached to the College. On 22.05.2019 at about 9:00 p.m., Agripada Police Station, Mumbai received information that Dr. Payal Tadvi had committed suicide by hanging herself in her room.  Initially, a case was filed under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. .  Soon after that, a complaint was lodged by the mother of Dr. Payal Tadvi stating that her daughter was harassed by the Appellants and that they were directly responsible for the suicide committed by her daughter, Crime No.157 of 2019 was registered against the Appellants under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (“IPC”, for short), under the provisions of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities), Act, 1989 and also under Section 4 of the Maharashtra  Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as ‘1999 Act’).

The court held that “We now come to the submissions of Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned Senior Advocate for the Appellants which are to the following effect: i) Relying on the decisions of this Court in Sumit Mehta vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Kunar Kumar Tiwari alias Kunar Kumar vs.  State of Bihar and another3, it is submitted that in terms of Section 437(3) of the Code, the courts undoubtedly are entitled to impose conditions which are necessary ‘otherwise in the interest of justice’. However, as held by this Court, such conditions cannot be arbitrary, fanciful or extend beyond the ends of the provision.

Thus the judges had come to the following conditions stating, “Considering the matter in its entirety and especially when the Appellants have to undergo training under the same guide and in the same institution where they were registered, in our considered view, ends of justice would be met if condition no. (iv) as laid down by the High Court is relaxed and the Appellants are permitted to go back to the College and the Hospital to pursue their studies, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Appellants shall not, in any manner, influence or even attempt to influence any of the witnesses.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. If there be any untoward incident as apprehended by Dr. Ganesh Shinde, Head of Department, or even likelihood of such 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.

Subject to the conditions, as stated hereinabove, the Appellants shall be permitted to re-enter the College and the Hospital to pursue their courses of study.  This Order shall come into effect at the beginning of the second term of academic session 2020-2021 and if such term has already begun, it shall come into effect from 12.10.2020.  It is made clear that the Appellants shall be permitted to pursue their courses of study regardless of the Order of Suspension dated 27.05.2019. Copies of this Judgment shall be sent to the Trial Court and the concerned Police Station for record and compliance.”

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