MUMBAI: Three female doctors of a South Mumbai hospital booked for allegedly abetting suicide by a junior colleague by tormenting her with casteist slurs Tuesday moved a session court here for anticipatory bail, claiming innocence.
The three doctors, Hema Ahuja, 28, Bhakti Mehere, 26, and Ankita Khandelwal, 27, said in their bail plea they were not even aware of the victim's caste and had only professional interaction with her.
Hours after they moved the court, one of them, Mehra, however, was arrested after initial interrogation by the police.
The trio, attached to Nair Hospital at Agripada in South Mumbai, has been booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Anti-Ragging Act and the IT Act and section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.
In their bail application, which is likely to come up for hearing Wednesday, the doctors claimed they had not caused any harm to the victim, Dr Payal Tadvi, 26, who allegedly hanged herself on May 22.
Her family has alleged that the three doctors taunted her for belonging to a Scheduled Tribe.
The trio, in the pre-arrest bail plea, said they had only professional interaction with the deceased and it was work- related only. The accused doctors further said they were not aware that the deceased belonged to "any reserved category".
"The applicants never knew her caste. They, day in and day out, treat people from all castes and categories. "If they never wanted the deceased to work there (at the hospital), they would have never worked with her.
The deceased had assisted the applicants in various operations," it said. "In fact, on the day (of the incident) she had assisted Ahuja and Mehere in an operation.
This clearly shows that deceased was allowed to work and could freely do her work without any trouble from the applicants," the plea added.
They claimed the deceased never made any complaints about the harassment to the higher authorities.
"It is worth noting that despite her own husband being a professor in a reputed government college as well as she also being a post-graduate student she had access to her seniors as well as the higher authorities in the college and yet she personally didn't lodge a complaint to any of the authorities," the application said.
Referring to a claim by the victim doctor's mother that a complaint was given to to the authorities and which she has been circulating on WhatsApp, the plea said the authorities needed to probe and find out if any complaint was received by them at all.
The three doctors termed Tadvi's death as a very "unfortunate incident" and claimed the entire atmosphere where she used to work is "overworked" and condition there is "extremely stressful".
"There is huge amount of pressure, when performances are not put up to the extent expected because one is dealing with human lives, particularly involving women and children in the tender state of pregnancy and delivery," it said.
The application claimed Tadvi had "shirked responsibilities" as between November 2018 and December 2018, she had suddenly stopped coming to the hospital, for which "she was labelled as a person who runs away (bhagoda)".
"If the deceased was labelled as a person who runs away (bhagoda), it cannot be said that it amounted to any kind of abetment to suicide or offences under the SC/ST Act," they said.
The application said a situation may arise where things are stressful and people may decide to conduct themselves with high efficiency and pull up others who don't.
"If the deceased was acting in a manner, which was not proper as a student and as a trainee, she was expected to be pulled up. (If) she found the same to be too stressful, she could have left the job," it said.