The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed its registry department to make arrangements on July 30 to film hearing of the bail pleas of three senior doctors, arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of their junior colleague at a civic-run hospital here.
Justice D S Naidu was hearing bail pleas filed by the Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Meher and Ankita Khandelwal, arrested on May 29 for allegedly making casteist slurs and abetting the suicide of their colleague Dr Payal Tadvi.
Tadvi (26), a second-year postgraduate medical student attached to B Y L Nair Hospital, allegedly committed suicide in her hostel room on May 22.
Justice Naidu on Thursday noted that Section 15 (a) (10) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) mandates that all proceedings under the act have to be video recorded by the court concerned.
The provision was pointed out to the court by advocate Gunaratan Sadavarte, who appeared for the victim’s mother.
While special public prosecutor Raja Thakare said it was a policy matter, advocate Aabad Ponda, appearing for the accused, said the provision is only for trial proceedings and not bail hearings.
Justice Naidu, however, said the proceedings would mean all judicial proceedings.
“I cannot ignore the statutory provisions. While I am sympathetic towards the fact that this would mean a delay in hearing of the bail pleas, but it is also imperative that the provisions of the act are followed,” the judge said.
The court then directed the high court’s registry department to make necessary arrangements for video-recording and posted the bail pleas for further hearing on July 30.
Justice Naidu said as a judge, he was for recording of court proceedings and that he uses his mobile phone to record audios of arguments of lawyers in important cases.
Ponda, while seeking bail, argued that the accused are educated persons and not criminals.
“We are not criminals. We know that something unfortunate has happened and a woman has lost her life. But life has to go on. We will face the trial,” Ponda said.
The accused have been suspended from the Nair hospital, he said, adding they just want to complete their education and propose to stay out of Mumbai.
Ponda further pointed out that the chargesheet filed by the prosecution places reliance on the purported suicide note, the photos of which were recovered from Tadvi’s mobile.
“The suicide note speaks about harassment meted out with regard to work. There is no whisper about caste or that the accused persons made remarks about the victim’s caste,” Ponda argued.
The three doctors have been booked under IPC sections for abetment of suicide and destruction of evidence, and provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities).
They are presently in judicial custody.
Tadvi’s family alleged that three of her seniors – Ahuja, Meher and Khandelwal – ragged her and hurled casteist abuses at her, forcing Tadvi to take her life.
Mumbai police’s Crime Branch on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against the three accused.
The over 1,800-page charge sheet, filed before a special court here, contains a copy of the three-page suicide note allegedly written by Tadvi before hanging herself in her hostel room.