MUMBAI: The police told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that they have prepared a letter recommending an inquiry against the head of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the BYL Nair hospital here in a case of alleged suicide of resident doctor Payal Tadvi.
Senior counsel Raja Thakre, the prosecutor in the case, however, informed Justice S S Jadhav that the Crime Branch was yet to send the letter to the municipal commissioner to seek permission for initiating proceedings against Dr Yi Ching Ling under the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
Justice Jadhav was hearing bail applications of three women doctors arrested for allegedly abetting Tadvi's suicide.
During the hearing, the high court asked the crime branch to write to the municipal commissioner immediately regarding initiating action against Ching Ling.
By not acting upon the complaint by Tadvi's mother that her daughter was being harassed by three seniors, Ching Ling had "shirked" the responsibility, the court said.
Why the crime branch had not written to the municipal commissioner seeking that Ching Ling's name be "added" in the case, the court asked.
"Does the investigating agency have no power to prosecute her," Justice Jadhav asked.
In the evening, however, the high court published a "modified order" on the court website, saying it merely sought the prosecution's opinion on whether "Dr Ching Ling had been held responsible/liable for the offence punishable under section 7 of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act."
Tadvi (26), a second-year post-graduate student and resident doctor attached to the Nair Hospital, committed suicide in her hostel room on May 22. She belonged to a Scheduled Tribe.
Her mother claimed that Tadvi had complained to Ching Ling about the mental harassment she faced from her seniors Hema Ahuja, Ankita Khandelwal and Bhakti Meher, now arrested in the case.
The accused doctors moved the high court after the trial court rejected their bail pleas on June 24.
During the hearing, Justice Jadhav also suggested the medical licences of the accused doctors be "terminated", at least till the conclusion of the trial.
The judge also said the material in the charge sheet suggested several "lacunae" in the investigation.
"Despite the fact that several colleagues of Dr Tadvi who were made witnesses in the case were in a vulnerable position now as they continued to be at the hospital, the Crime Branch had failed to record their statements before a magistrate under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)," Justice Jadhav said.
The statements recorded under the section 164 are admissible as evidence during trial.
Justice Jadhav granted three days to the crime branch to record the statements of "relevant witnesses" including Tadvi's friend Dr Snehal Shinde, who, according to Tadvi's suicide note, was facing similar harassment from the accused.
The court also dismissed defence lawyer Abad Ponda's argument that the accused doctors deserved to be granted bail since it was not a case of murder or culpable homicide.
Ponda said the accused were "deeply sorry" and that they had never intended Tadvi to end her life.
Justice Jadhav rejected this argument.
"The deceased and her family raised several complaints before the suicide, the mental injury was seen and it could have been curtailed, yet, no one took serious note of it.
You can't say thus, that this is not a case of murder or homicide for mental injury was inflicted upon her," she said.
"Everyone merely said this (ragging) is common in medical colleges. What kind of attitude is this," the HC observed.
The prosecution made a request that the media be prohibited from reporting on the bail proceedings.
Justice Jadhav said she will pass an order later, but pointed out that another bench of the high court had revoked a media gag order in Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case.
The hearing will continue on August 9.