The crime branch in its response before a city court has strongly opposed the plea made by one of the accused doctors for exemption from attending the court calling the statements made in the plea “lame excuses”.
Special Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat has said in his reply filed on behalf of the department that the accused is “avoiding appearance, taking shelter behind the veil of being a doctor”.
Hema Ahuja in her plea had cited the nature of her work and studies while seeking exemption from attending court till the charges are framed in the case and thereafter, that she could attend as and when called by it. She had also said that she is on COVID-19 duty at the hospital and has schedules of home quarantine to follow.
Prosecutor Gharat referring to his said in his reply that during the lockdown period when services of doctors were very much needed, she was not present in Mumbai and did not take a stand in any forum that she is eager to serve ailing patients.
Ahuja had been to her native before the lockdown and had sought repeated exemptions from court appearances. The court had exempted her from attendance during the lockdown period as she had said she was stuck at her native due to lack of transport services to Mumbai.
The reply continued that on the contrary Ahuja's stand before every forum is of higher education and ruining of her career, which is for her own self. “Hence her excuse that her absence from the hospital for a few years to attend a criminal case against her would adversely affect the service to the patients is a hippocratic stand…and a sheer excuse is attempted to be forwarded to avoid appearance in the trial,” it said.
The accused cannot be granted exemption from appearance for an indefinite non-specific period, it stated, adding that grant of concessions to accused in serious cases will flash an incorrect message to society.
In her plea seeking exemption, Ahuja had also stated that she was apprehensive to attend court as media trial and hype in the case had resulted in prejudices against the accused and that she fears physical and mental harm if made to attend court.
Deceased doctor Payal Tadvi’s mother who is an intervener in the case also filed a reply to Ahuja’s plea. Referring to the reason of fear of harm that Ahuja had stated to be exempted from court appearances, Tadvi's mother said there is no evidence of any such incident in the past where Ahuja was subjected to abuses, physical and mental harm when she was on her way to the court. The reply also cited that the apex court while relaxing the doctors' bail conditions recently had said that they must remain present on each of the dates of the matter in the trial court, unless specifically exempted.