The appellants were postgraduate students at Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai where they are studying in the third year of their Gynaecology Course.
Dr Payal Tadvi was also pursuing a Postgraduate Course at the college and was a year junior to the appellants.
On 22.05.2019, she was found dead in her room, and the police suspected that it was a case of suicide and recorded the incident under Section 174 of CrPc.
The mother of the deceased alleged that the appellants were harassing her daughter and they were the reason behind the suicide.
A case under Section 306 r/w Section 34 of IPC was registered against them. The appellants were also charged under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities), Act, 1989 and Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
They were suspended from the college on 27.05.2019 and were arrested 29.05.2019. During investigation statements of more than 100 witnesses were recorded. A 1200 page charge sheet was also filed in the case.
A bail application was filed by the appellants which was rejected by the Court of Sessions Bombay by order dated 24.06.2019. The petitioners filed an appeal in the High Court. Bail was granted to the appellants, but some conditions were imposed on them.
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.
The appellants then approached the High Court and requested the Court to relax the conditions mentioned above.
Condition (iii) was relaxed, and condition (v) was recalled. However, a condition no. (iv) was not recalled or relaxed by the High Court.
Aggrieved, the appellants challenged non-relaxation of condition no. (iv) by the High Court.
Proceedings before the Supreme Court:-
Counsel for the appellants stated the following points before the Supreme Court:
- It was argued that condition no.4 infringes the rights of the appellants guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- It was further argued that the appellants are not insisting on going back to the same college; they are open to migrate/transfer to a different college.
- It was stated that the appellants have a year left in their postgraduate course.
- As statements of all the witnesses have already been recorded, there is no question of the appellants influencing them.
- The stand taken by the Deputy Secretary was incorrect and might jeopardise the career of the appellants.
Arguments raised by other parties.
Counsel for the Medical Council of India stated that the appellants could not be transferred to a different college because transfers and migrations are prohibited.
Counsel for the complainant submitted that because the appellants are suspended they cannot enter the college and there is a chance they might try to influence the witness who works in the college.
Counsel for the College stated that the appellants were suspended based on the opinion of the anti-ragging committee.
Reasoning and Decision of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that there was no merit in the suspension order as it was based on the criminal proceedings that were initiated against the appellants. The order did not have any roots in statutory powers conferred under Section 6 of the 1999 Act.
Further the Supreme Court observed that if the appellants were not allowed to attend the college, then their career might get hampered and such adverse impact is an infringement of their rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court opined that due to the condition that they have to undergo training under the same guide and in the same institution relaxation of condition (iv) was necessary. However, the Court has imposed following condition on the appellants:-
- They will not try to influence the investigation.
- They will be present before the Court on the dates of hearing.
- They might not be required to stay in the hostel subject to permission from the Dean
- If any incident occurs in the college, then the college authorities should immediately inform the police.
The appeal was allowed subject to the conditions mentioned above.
Title:- ANKITA KAILASH KHANDELWAL AND ORS. VERSUS STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS
Case No. CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos.660-662 OF 2020
Date Of Order: 08.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saranand Hon’ble Justice Ajay Rastogi