Supreme Court relief: 3 doctors accused in Dr Payal Tadvi Suicide case allowed to resume PG medical education
New Delhi - In a recent verdict on the suicide case of Dr Payal Tadvi, the Supreme Court has allowed three accused doctors to go back to the college and hospital to pursue their studies of the postgraduate medical course.
The accused doctors, who are pursuing a post-graduate medical course in Gynaecology and Obstetrics, have completed two years out of three years course. They had moved the apex court seeking to resume their studies postgraduate degree in gynaecology and obstetrics.
Medical Dialogues had extensively reported about the unfortunate case, wherein, the 26-year-old PG medico Dr Payal Tadvi pursuing MD Gynecology from a well known BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai had allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room in May 2019. The doctor was allegedly under depression as three of her senior colleagues allegedly used to harass her with casteist remarks.
A complaint was moved by the medico's family and a case against the trio, was registered under section 306 (abetment for suicide) of the Indian penal code (IPC), sections of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, Anti-Ragging Act and Information Technology Act, 2000.
Later, the Bombay High Court had granted bail to three doctors and directed the trio to submit a surety of Rs 2 Lakh and appear before the crime branch every alternate day. The court had further directed them not to travel outside Mumbai without permission or go inside the BYL Nair Hospital, where Dr Tadvi had committed suicide. The high court ordered that the licences of the accused would remain suspended until the trial concludes.
In November last year, the accused had approached the HC seeking relaxation in some of the conditions imposed and requested to be allowed to pursue further studies.
Several deliberations were made on the petition from both sides.
Meanwhile, in February this year, the HC refused permission to three women doctors to complete their PG courses. The bench stated that they can pursue post-graduation after trial in the case is complete. The court noted that the Maharashtra Medical Council has already initiated inquiry into the issue and shall take appropriate decision on suspension of their licences. The bench had said that in the eventuality that the three are found guilty, the MMC would be at liberty to pass any order as per the section of the Act.
Then, subsequent to HC orders, the state medical council revoked the suspension of licences of 2 doctors. Ahuja, who is not registered with the MMC but with the medical council of another state, was directed by the Bombay High Court to register with the MMC.
Further, during a hearing before the SC, the bench had asked the state to inform whether the 3 doctors can join BMC or state hospital. The Medical Council of India had submitted that migration was not permissible.
Now, citing regulations of Medical Council of India, the dean of Topiwala Medical College and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, told the Supreme Court earlier that it did not have the authority to transfer the three accused doctors to any other hospital for them to complete the final year of their degree.
However, now, the apex court relaxed one of the conditions imposed on them by the Bombay High Court, which had granted them bail in August last year and said that they shall not enter into the jurisdiction of the concerned police station and more particularly the college, reports PTI.
A bench headed by Justice U U Lalit, which said these doctors must be allowed to go back to their study, imposed several conditions on them including that they shall not influence or even attempt to influence any of the witnesses in any manner and shall present themselves on each dates before the trial court, unless their presence is specifically exempted.
"While balancing the competing claims, in our view, the appellants (doctors) 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. Any such adverse impact will negate their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution," the bench, also comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi, said in its judgement.
The top court delivered the verdict on an appeal filed by these three doctors against the February this year order of the high court which had refused to relax one of the conditions imposed on them in August last year while granting them bail in the case.
It noted the stand of the Medical Council of India that under no circumstance migration is permissible for students undergoing post graduate medical courses.
"We are, thus, called upon to consider the competing claims in such a way that the individual rights of the appellants to pursue their courses of study are secured and, at the same time, the conduct of prosecution also runs smoothly and without any interference and possibility of witnesses getting won over," it said.
"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…..," the bench said.
The top court said its 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 October 12 this year.
It said these three doctors shall be permitted to pursue their courses of study regardless of the May last year order of suspension, which was passed by the college while taking cognisance of the FIR registered against them.