Dr Payal Tadvi Suicide Case: Bombay HC stays Medical Council inquiry against 2 accused doctors
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has put a temporary stay on disciplinary inquiry initiated by the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) against two senior resident doctors booked in connection with the death of Dr Payal Tadvi, who committed suicide in 2019.
The disciplinary action against the two doctors attached to King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital has been put on hold till the next date of hearing of the case in the High Court, i.e. June 11.
The two residents filed a separate petition before the High Court division bench of Justice KK Tated and Justice NR Borkar challenging the inquiry initiated by MMC in November, last year.
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. 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 the case against three doctors 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 licenses of the accused would remain suspended until the trial concludes.
In November 2019, the accused had approached the HC seeking relaxation in some of the conditions imposed and requested to be allowed to pursue further studies.
Further in December, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) exonerated the two former department heads at the BYL Nair Hospital for the want of "linking evidence".
Several deliberations were made on the petition from both sides.
Meanwhile, in February 2020, the HC refused permission to three women doctors to complete their PG courses. The bench stated that they can pursue post-graduation after the trial in the case is complete.
The court noted that the Maharashtra Medical Council has already initiated an inquiry into the issue and shall take an appropriate decision on the suspension of their licenses. 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.
Subsequent to HC orders, the state medical council revoked the suspension of licenses of 2 doctors. One of the doctors, 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. The process is pending.
Meanwhile, the accused had moved the apex court seeking to resume their studies postgraduate degree in gynaecology and obstetrics.
Following the Maharashtra Medical Council's (MMC) order revoking the suspension of the medical licenses of two of the three accused doctors, the Supreme Court had asked the state if the accused doctors can join BMC or state hospitals.
Thereafter, the Supreme Court allowed the three doctors to continue their Postgraduate studies. However, in November 2020 the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) had issued notices to two of the doctors seeking their clarification on the allegations of abetment.
As per the latest media report by the Hindustan Times, the accused had contended before the High Court that their defence would be disclosed in the MMC inquiry and this would prejudice their criminal case pending before the High Court. They further submitted before the HC bench that the MMC inquiry has been initiated against the same charges for which they are being prosecuted.
Opining that there is a force in the argument of the petitioners, the High Court observed,
"Bare reading of the notice of charges dated 04.11.2020 prima facie shows that the respondents started departmental inquiry against the petitioner on the basis of the criminal case."
As per the High Court orders, the MMC inquiry against the doctors have been temporarily stayed till June 11, the next date of hearing of the criminal case.