Oct 13, 2021 13:56 UTC
Oct 13, 2021 at 13:56 UTC
Case Study: Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos. 660-662 of 2020
Date of Judgment: 8th October 2020
Bench: Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat
Dr Ankita Khandelwal, Dr Hema Suresh Ahuja and Dr Bhakti Arvind Mehra (appellants) were pursuing a Post Graduate Degree course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai. They had completed two years out of three years of course in April 2019 and were working as residents in B.Y.L. Nair Charity Hospital attached to the College. Dr Payal Tadvi, another student of Post Graduate Degree Course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in the College was junior to the appellants. Committed suicide by hanging herself in her room on 22 May 2019. An FIR was registered under Section 306 and Section 34 of the IPC, the provisions of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities), Act, 1989 and under Section 4 of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999, as the appellants were accused of harassing Dr Payal Tadvi and being directly responsible for suicide committed by the deceased. The appellants were suspended by the Dean of the Hospital and the College and were arrested on 29 May 2019.
On 24 June 2019, the Bombay Session Court rejected the bail application filed by the appellants.
Aggrieved to which the Appellants filed an appeal at the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. On 9 August 2019, the Bombay High Court granted bail to the Appellants, subject to eleven conditions.
However, on 25 October 2019, the Dean of the hospital and the college rejected the request of appellants for revocation of their suspension, due to conditions in the order passed by the Bombay High Court. Later Maharashtra Medical Council on 10 January 2020, suspended the licence of Dr Ankita Kailash Khandelwal and Dr Bhakti Arvind Mehar, whereas Dr Hema Suresh Ahuja was not registered with the council.
On 16 March 2020, the Maharashtra Medical Council revoked the suspension order of both the appellants.
The important conditions in question were:
(iii). The appellants will not leave Mumbai and will report to the Crime Branch every alternative day.
(iv). The appellant will not enter the Topiwala National Medical College (B.Y.L. Nair Ch. Hospital).
(v) their medical license will stand suspended till the conclusion of the trial.
But only condition (iii) was relaxed, and condition (v) was recalled. However, condition no. (iv) was not recalled or relaxed by the High Court.
Hence this appeal was filed by the appellants at the Apex Court, challenging the non-relaxation of condition no. (iv) of the Bombay High Court’s order while granting the bail.
The Apex Court relaxed condition no. (iv) and the appellants were permitted to re-enter the same college and the hospital to pursue their studies regardless of the suspension order issued dated 27 May 2019. Subject to following conditions:
subject to the following conditions:-
- The Appellants shall not, in any manner, influence or even attempt to influence any of the witnesses.
- The Appellants shall present themselves on each of the dates that the matter gets posted before the Trial Court, unless their presence is specifically exempted.
- If it is permissible, and subject to the appropriate permission from the Dean of the College and the Hospital, the Appellants may not reside in the quarters allocated to the residents in the College and the Hospital. However, if the registration as Post Graduate students requires the Appellants to be full time residents in the College and the Hospital, then the Appellants shall do so.
- The Appellants shall avail study leave so that their actual period of stay inside the College and the Hospital gets reduced to the maximum possible level.
- If there be any holiday or vacation and it is permissible for the residents to be outside the College and the Hospital, the Appellants shall avail that and keep themselves away from the Hospital and the College.
- If there be any untoward incident or even likelihood of such incident, the concerned authorities shall immediately report to the Police Station of the area and ensure that the life and liberty of everyone including the Appellants are well protected.
Key Law Positions Established in the case:
- Are accused entitled to pursue their academic w.r.t. to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India?
The Court relied upon the decision of Sumit Mehta v. State (NCT of Delhi) and it held that if the law presumes an accused to be innocent till his guilt is proved, the Appellants as presumably innocent persons, are entitled to all the fundamental rights including the right to liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and are entitled to pursue their course of study so long as the exercise of a said right does not hamper smooth conduct and progress of the prosecution. The Court further contended that even a convict is allowed to have academic pursuits while undergoing sentence and develop his/her potential as a human being to the fullest. Thus, the State apparatus must facilitate such pursuits rather than hamper any attempts on that behalf.
- The suspension order issued by the educational institute had any roots in statutory powers conferred under Section 6 of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 Act?
The court observed that under section 6(1) of the 1999 Act, the educational institute must prima facie be satisfied upon the allegations against the student found guilty of ragging or abetment of ragging are true, thereafter an order of suspension can be passed. Herein the case there was no prima facie view and the order issued by the educational institute was based on the grounds that the appellants were creating hurdles in the enquiry by the police and that there was an FIR registered against them.
 (2013) 15 SCC 57