When advocate Raja Thakare could not longer continue as prosecutor in the Payal Tadvi suicide case, having been appointed as a senior counsel in the High Court, Tadvi’s husband Salman had expressed his fears, wondering who the new appointee would be.
On Thursday, a few months down the line, he was glad to learn that advocate Pradeep Gharat had been appointed as the special public prosecutor for the crime branch in the case.
Salman has reason to be confident of securing justice. Advocate Gharat, in a career spanning over two decades as a prosecutor, has handled cases such as the Telgi stamp paper scam, the J-Dey murder case and the Salman Khan hit-and-run case. He is currently the prosecutor in cases concerning former underworld don Chhota Rajan and the Malvani hooch tragedy case of 2015 that took 106 lives.
In 2001, when he had secured the conviction of 19 Indonesian nationals in an international piracy case, it was only the second such conviction in a piracy case in history. In 2015, he had secured a five-year prison term for actor Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case. This was, however, overturned by the High Court. The Telgi case was the first to be conducted through video-conferencing throughout the trial. It was the first time too that police officers were tried along with the main accused for omissions and commissions during investigation. They were also convicted in it.
Speaking about the challenges he foresees in the Tadvi case, Gharat says it will be that to connect the suicide with the harassment in order to prove the charge of abetment of suicide.
Payal Tadvi, 26, a second-year Gynecology student at the BYL Nair hospital had died by suicide on May 22 last year. The crime branch has charged her seniors and doctors Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal for the offences under SC/ST Act, destruction of evidence and abetment of suicide among other offences. Tadvi was allegedly harassed and humiliated for belonging to a scheduled tribe community.