Payal Tadvi’s mother entitled to be heard, says court

In an order disposing the plea of accused doctor Hema Ahuja in the Payal Tadvi abetment of suicide case, which sought that the mother’s intervention be restricted, the court has said that in view of provisions the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the victim or dependent is entitled to be heard.

Special judge under the SC/ST Act Ajit N Mare said in his order that the informant (Abeda Tadvi) was justified in replying to the applications filed by Ahuja.

In the application, Ahuja had cited the order passed by the special court in March this year as per which Tadvi's mother is only allowed to assist the prosecutor and submit written arguments after closing of evidence in the case. It had said that "the sole intention of the intervener/complainant (Tadvi’s mother) is to ensure that the prosecution of the accused persons herein is made persecution”. It had sought that all the replies and applications filed by her deserve to be dismissed and direction needs to be issued to her to desist from making unnecessary separate replies and applications in the matter.

The special court in its order said that the informant will have a say in the matters mentioned in Sec 15A of the 1989 Act, apart from the limited intervention permitted by the court in March. Section 15A of the Act pertains to the rights of victims and witnesses.

Judge Mare said that the pleas made by the accused were related to relaxation or modification in the conditions of bail and that those do fall within “any proceeding” relating to bail. “In such circumstances, in view of the provisions of sub-section 5 of Section 15A of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, the victim or dependent is entitled to be heard,” the court said. As per sub-Section 5 of Section 15A, victim or his dependent shall be entitled to be heard in any proceedings related to bail, discharge, parole, conviction or sentence or any connected proceedings and arguments.

It said that though Tadvi’s mother’s plea for intervention was allowed to a limited extent, the rights of the informant under the SC/ST Act cannot be ignored.

While disposing the plea, it said that no specific direction needs to be passed to restrict the role of the informant, since if she exceeds the role, the defence can point it out to the court.

The plea of Ahuja had come after Tadvi’s mother had opposed her pleas to travel out of Mumbai and also another plea where she had sought permanent exemption from attending court.

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