Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. V. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 660-662 OF 2020
Bench: Uday Umesh Lalit, J., Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi, JJ.
The Appellants were accused of abetting suicide of Dr. Payal Tadvi, student of Post Graduate Degree Course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in the College and completed first year of the course. She was a year junior to the Appellants and all of them were residents in the same Department and pursuing the same course. Owing to the FIR registered by the mother of the victim the Appellants were arrested. Bail application preferred by the Appellants was rejected by the Court of Sessions. Subsequently, The appeal under section 14A(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for seeking enlargement on bail was allowed by the High Court after imposing certain stringent conditions.
However, as a result of condition no.(v), their licences to practice as medical professionals stood suspended; and by virtue of condition no.(iii) they could not leave the city of Mumbai without the express permission of the Court. Further, as a result of condition no.(iv) they could not enter the Hospital and the College where they were pursuing their Post Graduate courses.
The High Court by its order dated 21.02.2020 relaxed condition no.(iii). It also recalled condition no.(v) as in its view, suspension of licences as ordered by the High Court was without jurisdiction and that in terms of Section 22(1) of the Maharashtra Medical Council Act, 1965 the action in that behalf could be taken by the Council. The High Court refused to relax condition no.(iv). These appeals, thus, challenge non-relaxation of condition no. (iv) by the High Court.
Whether the Appellants should be allowed to enter the Hospital and College Premises and pursue their Post-Graduation course?
The Court held 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. 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 certain conditions i.e.
(i) The Appellants shall not influence or even attempt to influence any of the witnesses and shall present themselves on each of the dates that the matter gets posted before the Trial Court, unless their presence is specifically exempted.
(ii) The Appellants shall avail study leave, so that their actual period of stay inside the College and the Hospital gets reduced to the maximum possible level. On holidays or vacation and it is permissible for the residents to be outside the College and the Hospital, the Appellants shall avail that and keep themselves away from the Hospital and the College.
(iii) If there be any untoward incident as apprehended by Dr. Ganesh Shinde, Head of Department, or even likelihood of such incident, the concerned authorities shall immediately report to the Police Station of the area and ensure that the life and liberty of everyone including the Appellants are well protected.