The Mumbai Crime Branch Tuesday approached the Bombay High Court, seeking custody of three senior doctors of a civic hospital arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of a junior colleague. A special court had last Friday remanded the three doctors -- Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehere and Ankita Khandelwal -- to judicial custody till June 10.
The Crime Branch's petition, seeking their custody for interrogation, will be heard on June 6, the prosecution said. The trio, attached to the B Y L Nair Hospital here, was arrested last week on charges of abetment of suicide of their junior colleague, Dr Payal Tadvi.
After Tadvi ended her life on May 22, her family alleged that the accused doctors taunted and hurled casteist abuses at her as she belonged to a scheduled tribe. The accused were subsequently booked under provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Anti-Ragging Act, Information Technology Act and section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The suicide case, which triggered a wave of protests, was later handed over to Mumbai Police's Crime Branch from the local Agripada police. The Crime Branch, in its petition in the HC, said it was handed the case on the day when the three accused were remanded to judicial custody and hence, did not get a chance to interrogate them.
The petition challenged the special court's order sending the three accused to judicial remand and pleaded with the HC that they are sent back to police custody. As per the Crime Branch plea, custodial interrogation was required to ascertain if the victim had left any suicide note and if the accused persons destroyed it.
"The petition was mentioned today before a single bench of Justice S S Shinde which has posted it for hearing on June 6," public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said. The trio had Monday filed bail pleas before the special court, which will hear them on June 10.
Of the three doctors, Mehere was arrested last Tuesday evening, while Ahuja and Khandelwal were taken into custody by the police in the early hours of Wednesday. In their bail applications, the three have claimed that they never made any remarks on Tadvi's caste and were in fact not even aware of her caste.
They further claimed that they had only pulled up Tadvi for doing a "poor job" in the hospital and had not harassed her as alleged by her family. Tadvi (26), a post-graduate student at Nair Hospital, hanged herself in her hostel room as she was fed up of being allegedly harassed by the three accused.
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