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A special court in Mumbai today extended the judicial custody of the three doctors accused of abetting the suicide of Dr. Payal Tadvi till June 21.
Additional Sessions Judge PB Jadhav remanded Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal to judicial custody till June 21, the date on which the court will also hear the bail application filed by the accused.
On May 22, Dr. Payal Tadvi, a postgraduate student at the TN Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, committed suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room. Her family has accused three of her seniors of harassment and caste discrimination.
The accused have been booked under Sections 34 and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, Section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act.
Last Tuesday, the special court had adjourned the hearing of the bail plea moved by the accused doctors. On May 31, the court had sent the three accused to judicial custody.
Today, senior prosecutor Raja Thakare requested the court to extend judicial custody of the accused. Advocate Gunaratna Sadavarte, however, opposed the request and claimed that the state is diluting the matter by pressing for such a request. Advocate Shailesh Kharat, appearing for the accused, sought early hearing of the bail application.
“So far as the custody of accused is concerned, it is up to the investigation officer to decide whether to apply for judicial or police custody”, Judge Jadhav said today.
Moreover, on the request made by Sadavarte, appearing on behalf of the complainant, the special court has directed the state to make arrangements for video recording of bail proceedings according to the amended SC/ST Act.
The doctors of BYL Nair Hospital, accused of abetting the suicide of their junior doctor Payal Tadvi, were also produced before the special court today. When asked by the court, they made no complaint of coercion or torture by the Crime Branch.
On June 6, the Bombay High Court refused to grant the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police custody of three women doctors. However, the Crime Branch was allowed to interrogate them for four days.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice SS Shinde ordered that the Crime Branch can take the three accused from the Byculla Jail, where they are lodged currently, for questioning during the daytime.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribe is in Mumbai to inquire into Dr Payal Tadvi’s death and allegations of caste discrimination. The commission met the BYL Nair hospital administration and state government officials to check the progress in the case.
Image taken from here.