Disappointed with SC decision, activists resolve to continue fighting for Dr Payal Tadvi
The Supreme Court, on October 8th, permitted the three doctors, accused of harassing Dr Payal Tadvi and driving her to suicide, to continue with and complete their studies at the same college.
“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the doctors accused of abetting the suicide of a junior resident to continue their postgraduate studies at the same college," said the protesters gathered outside Mumbai’s Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair Hospital on Monday, when the three upper caste doctors accused of harassing Dr Payal Tadvi and driving her to suicide, rejoined college to resume their studies with police protection. The Supreme Court, on October 8th, permitted the three accused doctors to continue with and complete their studies. Tadvi died of suicide last year, on May 29, following harassment and humiliation by three doctors on account of her belonging to a tribal community. Junior resident in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department, she would have been the first female doctor from her Muslim Tadvi Bhil tribe.
“She faced severe harassment and humiliation by three senior residents in her department on account of her belonging to the tribal community. They also threatened to deny her opportunities to study, gain practical experience and complete her post-graduate studies. These are serious offenses under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act, and were clearly a part of the charge sheet filed by the police. They have also been documented in the Anti-Ragging Committee Enquiry report of the College,” said a statement by the Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana (AIDWA) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the organisations that spearheaded the protests in Mumbai on Monday.
The system’s response to the Payal Tadvi case demonstrates once again its insidious nature of discrimination & casteism. When will she get Justice? Justice for the Payalv lies in embracing the truth of her life as a tribal Muslim woman & her death because of it #JusticeForDrPayal pic.twitter.com/lSqTkTRFBl— Labeed Aliya (@labeedaliya) October 11, 2020
While activists have been disappointed at the Supreme Court, they have also pointed out the “serious negligence” of the college towards the incident. “Five days after the incident, an anti-ragging committee submitted its enquiry report to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) and the State Government clearly recommending the suspension of the three accused. However, in its suspension order, the college made no mention of the findings of the anti-ragging committee,” said activist Sanjay Dabhade of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch.
The suspension order was based on three grounds - that an FIR was lodged against the three accused, that they left the campus without informing any of the college authorities, and that they were not cooperative with the police. “The provisions under the Anti-Ragging Act are very stringent. However, since the findings were not mentioned in the suspension orders, it worked out in favour of the accused, and they could argue for permission to continue their studies at the same college,” Dabhade said
He added, “This is serious negligence on part of the college, the MUHS as well as the State Government. We, Tadvi’s mother, we have all been asking for the report submitted by the anti-ragging committee. It is the failure of the whole system that the Anti-Ragging Act has not been enforced in a case as severe as this, where the harassment led to suicide.”
Those fighting for justice for Tadvi have demanded that the Deans of the College and MUHS are made accountable and dismissed. “A similar injustice has been committed by the Maharashtra Medical Council which has restored the licenses to practise of the three accused doctors even as it has not held a single hearing for over a year since it ordered an enquiry. We have been demanding the immediate expediting of the enquiry and the suspension of the licenses pending the court verdict,” the statement read.
The protesters have also demanded that the Maharashtra State Government must file a review petition in the Supreme Court in this regard. “It will be interesting to see what the State Government does now,” Dabhade stated.