An accused doctor in the death by suicide of Payal Tadvi - Hema Ahuja, has sought exemption from attending court till framing of charges in the case and attend court only when called for expressing fear that she may be subjected to "abuses, physical and mental harm" if made to attend court.
In an application filed before the special court designated for offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that is conducting the case, she has said that following registration of FIR, "unwarranted media hype" was created in the matter because of the unfortunate death of her colleague. “The media has unfortunately preferred to run a parallel trial based on assumptions and presumptions having no foundation in facts. This has resulted in the accused being subjected to various kinds of prejudices, agonies and pressures,” her plea said.
There is a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the applicant that while coming for attending the court also she may be subjected to abuses, physical and mental harm.
Ahuja’s plea, made through her advocate, further said that insistence on attending court will cause great inconvenience and difficulties to her and will not serve any fruitful purpose.
While she said that her lawyer will remain present on all dates, she will remain present at the time of framing of charges or as and when called for.
The doctor also cited her work in the COVID ward on coming back to Mumbai from her native and periodic home quarantine requirements for doctors while seeking exemption and the nature of her work and studies she has to undertake in her plea.
The apex court has recently relaxed a condition the Bombay High Court had set while granting her and co-accused bail in August last year. The condition had barred them from entering the premises of the BYL Nair College and hospital where the incident of suicide had taken place. The top court allowed them to complete their education from Nair hospital itself.
The Supreme Court had however said that they will not miss even a single court date unless they are specifically exempted by the court.
Ahuja had been getting exemptions from appearance in court throughout the duration of the lockdown as she had been to her native before the lockdown and got held up there. In her present plea, Ahuja cited that the court had been granting exemptions until now for which the prosecution had not objected.
Payal Tadvi, a student of post graduation course in BYL Nair’s Gynacology and Obstetrics department had died by suicide on May 22 last year in her hostel room in the college premises. Her seniors Bhakti Mehare, Hema Ahuja and Ankita Khandelwal have been booked for pushing her to end her life due to caste humiliation.