The Supreme Court order allowing three accused in the Payal Tadvi case to continue their education at Topiwala National Medical (TNM) College and BYL Nair Hospital is deeply disappointing, said the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) on October 12, 2020.
“We continue to support Dr Payal Tadvi’s family and her lawyers in their fight for justice. We demand that the Government of Maharashtra immediately file a review petition in the SC and appoint a senior lawyer to argue its case,” they said in a press release.
On October 8, the Supreme Court allowed the three accused Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal, Dr. Hema Suresh Ahuja and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare to return to studies, stating that, “The Appellants 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.”
AIDWA member Sonya Gill blamed the Dean of TNM College, the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) and the Maharashtra government for the court decision. The Anti–Ragging Enquiry Committee Report of the college submitted to the MUHS and the state government recommended suspension of the accused. However, the suspension order was not based on the report’s findings and recommendation that have a statutory status under the Anti Ragging Act of 1999.
“This serious lapse has allowed the SC to waive the concerns of the College authorities and allow the accused to return to the campus. It is shocking that the anti-ragging provisions are being observed so casually in a renowned College and by the MUHS,” said DYFI member Preethy Sekhar.
The organisations demanded that the Dean and the MUHS are dismissed. Moreover, they said a similar injustice was committed by the Maharashtra Medical Council in restoring licences to practice of the three doctors even though there has not been a single hearing since the Council ordered an enquiry. Accordingly, the organisations demanded the immediate expedition of the enquiry and suspension of the licenses pending the court verdict.
They said the Supreme Court should have considered the gravity of the crime that yet again shows caste-based harassment and campus discrimination in colleges.
“This issue has time and again been highlighted by similar suicides in campuses across the country, from Rohit Vemula to others, and calls for a special law to deal with the scourge of caste-community based campus discrimination.,” they said.
The three doctors were accused of abetting the suicide of junior resident Dr Payal Tadvi who died on May 22, 2019 in the TNM premises. She allegedly suffered severe harassment and humiliation by the senior residents in the obstetrics and gynaecology department for being a member of a tribal community. They threatened to deny her practical experience and the completion of her post-graduate studies. The accused were booked under the Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act and were mentioned in the Anti-Ragging Committee Enquiry report of the college.
The accused were suspended and barred from the TNM campus, pending trial to protect the witnesses in the case. This was noted by the High Court while imposing bail conditions on the accused.
The entire SC order may be read here: