Ankita Kailash Khandelwal vs The State Of Maharashtra on 8 October, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Ankita Kailash Khandelwal vs The State Of Maharashtra on 8 October, 2020

Author: Uday Umesh Lalit

Bench: Uday Umesh Lalit, Vineet Saran, S. Ravindra Bhat

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                              Criminal Appeal Nos. 660-662 of 2020 (@ SLP (Crl.)Nos. 3083-3085 of 2020)
                              Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.



                                                                                                 REPORTABLE


                                                IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                              CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                          CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos.660-662 OF 2020
                               [Arising Out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) Nos.3083-3085 of 2020]

                          ANKITA KAILASH KHANDELWAL AND ORS.                                     …Appellants

                                                                   VERSUS

                          STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS                                        …Respondents



                                                               JUDGMENT

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. These appeals arise out of the common judgment and order dated

21.02.2020 passed by the High Court1 in Interim Application Nos.2, 3 and

4 of 2019 (preferred by Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal, Dr. Hema Suresh
Signature Not Verified
Ahuja and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare – respectively; who are collectively
Digitally signed by Dr.
Mukesh Nasa
Date: 2020.10.08
17:56:47 IST
Reason:

referred to as the Appellants hereafter) in Criminal Appeal No.911 of 2019.

1 The High Court of Judicature at Bombay.

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3. The Interim Applications were preferred by the Appellants seeking

relaxation of condition nos.(iii), (iv) and (v) imposed upon them in order

dated 09.08.2019 passed by the High Court while granting them bail.

4. The basic facts leading to the filing of said Criminal Appeal No.

911 of 2019, in brief, are as under:-

a) The Appellants after completing MBBS course were

pursuing Post Graduate Degree course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and

Obstetrics in Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai (‘the College’,

for short). They completed two years out of three years of course in April,

2019 and were working as residents in B.Y.L. Nair Charity Hospital (‘the

Hospital’, for short) attached to the College.

b) Dr. Payal Tadvi was also student of Post Graduate Degree

Course (M.D.) in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in the College and

completed first year of the course in April, 2019. She was thus a year

junior to the Appellants and all of them were residents in the same

Department and pursuing the same course.

c) On 22.05.2019 at about 9:00 p.m., Agripada Police Station,

Mumbai received an information that Dr. Payal Tadvi had committed

suicide by hanging herself in her room. Initially a case under Section 174

of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘the Code’, for short) was
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recorded. After the complaint was lodged by the mother of Dr. Payal Tadvi

that her daughter was harassed by the Appellants and that they were

directly responsible for the suicide committed by her daughter, Crime

No.157 of 2019 was registered against the Appellants under Section 306

read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (“IPC”, for short), under the

provisions of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of

Atrocities), Act, 1989 and also under Section 4 of the Maharashtra

Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as ‘1999 Act’).

d) By communication bearing No. NDN/172 dated 27.05.2019,

taking cognizance of the FIR registered against them, the Appellants were

suspended by the Dean of the Hospital and the College. The relevant text

of the communication addressed to Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare, one of the

Appellants was as under:-

“It has come to our notice that you have unofficially
been absent from work since 22.05.2019. The
Professor and the Head of department of Obstetrics
and gynaecology have informed our office that you
have been absent.

On 22.05.2019, Dr. Payal Salman Tadvi, who was
pursuing Post Graduation at the Obstetrics and
Gynaecology Department of Nair Hospital has
committed suicide in hostel room no. 806. Abeda
Salim Tadvi, the mother of Dr. Payal, has lodged a
complaint with Agripada Police Station. Based on the
complaint, an FIR has been lodged against Dr. Bhakti
Mehere. Cr.Reg.No.157/99 under Section 306,
Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, read with Section 4
of Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 read
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with Section 3(10) of SC, ST Prevention of Atrocities
Act, 1989; read with Section 67 of Information
Technology Act, 2000.

Instead of cooperating with the investigation by the
State in such a serious incident, you have gone
missing from work as well as your residence with the
intention to avoid the police investigation and without
informing any of the officials and without taking prior
permission. This has therefore, created hurdles in the
inquiry being conducted by the Police/
Administration. In addition to this, an FIR against
you has been lodged in Agripada Police Station.
Taking cognizance of this, you are being suspended
from 27.05.2019, till further orders.”

e) On the same date, report bearing no. NDN/183 dated

27.05.2019 under the signature of the Dean of the Hospital and the

College, was made which noted the opinion of Ragging Prevention

Committee and recommended that the Appellants be immediately

suspended. Action was also recommended against the related Unit Head

and Unit Head of Gynaecology and Maternity Ward.

f) The Appellants were arrested on 29.05.2019. The

investigation was thereafter transferred to the Crime Branch and the case

was renumbered as Crime No.49 of 2019. During the course of

investigation, statements of more than 100 witnesses were recorded by

the Crime Branch. After completion of investigation, charge sheet

running into 1200 pages was filed and the matter is still at the stage of

consideration whether the charges are required to be framed or not.
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g) Bail Application No.1338 of 2019 preferred by the

Appellants was rejected by the Court of Sessions (Gr. Bombay) at Bombay

by order dated 24.06.2019. The Appellants, being aggrieved, filed

Criminal Appeal No.911 of 2019 under Section 14A (2) of 1989 Act in the

High Court.

5. When the appeal was taken up for hearing by the High Court, the

grant of bail to the Appellants was not seriously objected to as is clear from

paragraph 4 of the order dated 09.08.2019, which was to the following

effect:-

“4. Mr. Ponda submits that having regard to the fact
that the investigation is complete and charge-sheet is
filed, the appellants deserve to be enlarged on bail.
The learned Special Public Prosecutor Mr. Thakre has
also been fair enough to consider that he has no
serious objection to grant of bail to the appellants.
This Court has perused the charge-sheet, which runs
into not less than 1200 pages. The Crime Branch has
recorded the statements of about more than 100
witnesses who have implicated the Appellants-

accused. Although, this Court is of the opinion that
the Appellants are entitled to grant of bail, the same
would be subject to stringent conditions.”
5.1. The order also recorded in paragraph 13 that statements of material

witnesses were recorded under Section 164 of the Code. Said paragraph

was:-

“13.During the course of hearing of this appeal for
bail, this Court had made a query as to whether the
statements of material witnesses had been recorded
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under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
1973. As the answer was in the negative, this Court
ensured that the statements of the material witnesses
such as Dr. Snehal Shinde, Dr. Geeta Kulkarni and
others were recorded under section 164 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973, in order to ensure that the
witnesses are not won over by the accused person
after being enlarged on bail.”

5.2. However while granting bail to the Appellants, certain conditions

were imposed by the High Court in its order dated 09.08.2019 with

following observations:-

“18. The Apex Court has also directed the Courts to
consider as to whether the investigation is completed
and whether the accused has cooperated with the
investigation. In the present case, the investigation is
completed, statements of the witnesses are recorded
under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
1973 and charge-sheet is filed. Moreover, the
appellants had joined investigation. Hence, the
appellants deserve to be enlarged on bail.

19. Learned Counsel for the appellants submits that
the appellants in the present case are not accused of
Section 302 or 307 of the Indian Penal Code or any
terrorist activities and the extreme steps taken by the
deceased Dr. Payal would reflect upon her psyche and
her ability to handle pressures in the medical
profession and therefore, according to him, the
appellants deserve bail. Even if this submission is
accepted, the Court cannot be oblivious of the fact,
that mental injury can be more serious than physical
injury. Mental injury may drive a person to any
extreme step like the present one since it can never be
seen, but it is only reflected by overt action or silence
on the part of the victim. The question whether the
appellants had the intention to drive Dr. Tadvi to
commit suicide is a matter which will be decided by
the Trial Court.

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20. Having regard to what is stated hereinabove, the
appeal deserves to be allowed.

21. Hence, following order is passed :

ORDER

(i) The appeal under section 14A(2) of the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention
of Atrocities) Act
for seeking enlargement on bail is
allowed after imposing certain stringent conditions.

(ii) The appellants be enlarged on bail on furnishing
P.R. Bond in the sum of Rs.2,00,000/- (Rs. Two Lakhs
only) each and one or more solvent local sureties.

(iii) The appellants shall not leave Mumbai without
the permission of the Court. The appellants shall
report to the office of Crime Branch, Nagpada every
alternative day till framing of charge.

(iv) The appellants shall not enter into the
jurisdiction of Agripada Police Station and more
particularly, Topiwala National Medical College
(B.Y.L. Nair Ch. Hospital).

(v) The licences of the appellants issued by Medical
Council of India as well as Maharashtra Medical
Council shall be remained suspended till conclusion
of the trial.

(vi) The appellants shall attend the trial Court on
every date unless exempted by the trial Court.

(vii) Upon committing breach of any condition
imposed herein, the investigating agency would be at
liberty to seek cancellation of bail.

(viii) The applicant shall be released on provisional
cash bail of Rs.2,00,000/- (Rs. Two Lakhs only) each
for a period of 8 weeks, within which they shall
furnish solvent local sureties to the satisfaction of the
Special Court, Mumbai.

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(ix) It is made clear that even while on provisional
cash bail, all the above said conditions would apply.

(x) The appellants shall file an undertaking with
respect to aforesaid clauses (iii) and (vi) in the trial
Court within two weeks from the date of release.

(xi) The Special Court, Mumbai shall not be
influenced in any manner with the observations made
by this Court in this Appeal under section 14A of the
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act
, as all the observations are restricted to
the grant of bail and not otherwise.

23. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.”

6. On 25.10.2019, the request made by the Appellants for revocation

of their suspension was rejected by the Dean of the Hospital and the

College stating as under:-

“… …In this letter you have requested to revoke the
suspension. But as per the order of Honorable Court
on dated 9/08/2019 it is not possible to revoke the
suspension at this point.”

7. The undertakings as contemplated by sub-para 9 of paragraph 21

of the Order dated 09.08.2019 were filed by the Appellants and it is

accepted that the conditions imposed by said order were not violated by

the Appellants. However, as a result of condition no.(v), their licences to

practice as medical professionals stood suspended; and by virtue of

condition no.(iii) they could not leave the city of Mumbai without the
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express permission of the Court. Further, as a result of condition no.(iv)

they could not enter the Hospital and the College where they were

pursuing their Post Graduate courses. In the circumstances, in

November, 2019, Interim Applications No.2, 3 and 4 of 2019 were

preferred by the Appellants seeking relaxation of condition nos.(iii), (iv)

and (v) imposed in order dated 09.08.2019 passed by the High Court.

8. On 10.01.2020, the Maharashtra Medical Council suspended the

licence of Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare.

There was no such order of suspension with respect to Dr. Hema Suresh

Ahuja, as she was not registered with the Maharashtra Medical Council.

9. While considering Interim Applications 2, 3 and 4 of 2019, the

High Court summoned Dr. Ganesh Shinde, Head of Department,

Gynaecology, whose submissions as well as the submission of the learned

Senior Counsel for the State were recorded thus:-

“2. As on today, Dr. Ganesh Shinde, was summoned
by this Court to ascertain the effect of relaxation of
the said condition. Dr. Shinde is present before the
Court. He has submitted that pursuant to the order
dated 28th February, 2019, he had called a meeting of
the staff members, the faculty members, nurses and
other persons who are witnesses in the present case.

There is a grave hostility towards the applicants. It is
submitted that their presence in the B.Y.L. Nair
Charity Hospital may change the facet of the trial and
that possibility of the witnesses being won over
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cannot be ruled out and the at the same time the
hospital will not take the responsibility of any harm
caused to the accused applicants at the hands of the
witnesses as a reaction to the incident which occurred
on 22nd May 2019 in which Dr. Payal Tadvi had
committed suicide in the residential quarter of B.Y.L.
Nair Charity Hospital. The Senior Counsel also
submits that in any case the accused-applicants are
graduates in medical discipline and that they can
prosecute their post graduation at any time in future
even after the conclusion of the trial and therefore,
there is no pressing urgency to allow the applicants to
enter into the premises of B.Y.L. Nair Charity
Hospital to complete their post-graduation”

9.1. The High Court by its order dated 21.02.2020 relaxed condition

no.(iii). It also recalled condition no.(v) as in its view, suspension of

licences as ordered by the High Court was without jurisdiction and that in

terms of Section 22(1) of the Maharashtra Medical Council Act, 1965 the

action in that behalf could be taken by the Council. The High Court had

issued notice to the Medical Council of India to explore the possibility as

to whether the Appellants could seek migration to any other Colleges.

However, in view of the submission by the State, the High Court refused

to relax condition no.(iv). It observed in paras 10 to 12 as under:-

“10.The learned counsel appearing for the
complainant seeks expeditious trial. It is a matter of
record that most of the witnesses are students who are
prosecuting their Post Graduation in B.Y.L. Nair
Charity Hospital and after completion of Post
Graduation they may not reside in Bombay and
therefore, it would be necessary to expedite the trial
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accordingly. The learned Special Judge (Special
Court SC and ST) seized with Sessions Case No.7 of
2019 shall make every endeavour to conclude the
recording of evidence as far as possible within ten
months from the date of framing of charge.

11. Needless to reiterate that the applicants herein
would be at liberty to pursue their further education
after the conclusion of the trial.

12. This Court had also issued notice to Medical
Council of India to explore the possibility as to
whether the present applicants could seek admission
in any other college. The learned Counsel Mr. Gole
has drawn the attention of this Court to the regulations
of Maharashtra Medical Council of India that the
applicants cannot migrate to any other college for
Post Graduation since they were doing their Post
Graduation in B.Y.L. Nair Charity Hospital in
Maharashtra. It is submitted that migration is not
permissible.”

10. In tune with the withdrawal of condition no.(v) by the High Court,

the Maharashtra Medical Council by communication dated 16.03.2020

revoked the suspension of Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal and Dr. Bhakti

Arvind Mehare and set aside the earlier order dated 10.01.2020.

11. These appeals, thus, challenge non-relaxation of condition no. (iv)

by the High Court.

12. While issuing notice on 09.07.2020 following order was passed by

this Court:-

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“Mr. Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior Advocate
appearing for the petitioners submitted inter alia that;

(i) the petitioners have completed two years out of
three years’ course and that they be allowed to
complete the entire course. He stated that normally
the students must go back to the same college but if
permitting the petitioners to resume their studies in
the same college is not feasible, the petitioners be
accommodated in any other college to enable them to
complete their studies.

In support of the submission, reliance is placed
on two examples cited by the petitioner at page “C” of
the list of dates and synopsis.

(ii) the observation in para 10 of the order pre-
suppose that the charges had to be framed. It was
submitted that the matter be left for the consideration
of the concerned Court whether the charges need to be
framed or not.”

Notice was confined to these submissions. Two examples given at

page ‘C’ of the list of dates and synopsis were:-

“The Petitioners have recently after passing of the
impugned judgment on enquiries learnt that last year
or so, various students (around 30 of them perusing
PG course, including Gynaecology, from one ESI-
PGIMSR College, Andheri, which had a fire, have
been accommodated in Grant Medical College, J.J
Hospital, Byculla. The same was done by the State of
Maharashtra with the consensus of the Medical
Council of India.

That the Petitioners have also recently learnt that the
passing of the impugned Judgment and final order
that students of their very college had also been
accommodated in another hospital i.e. Sion Hospital,
when there was a blast in their MRI center and the
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same continued for about 6 months, till the said center
was again made functional.”

13. Thereafter, the order dated 11.08.2020 passed by this Court

recorded the submissions advanced on behalf of the Medical Council of

India and the Complainant as under:-

“Mr. Gaurav Sharma, learned Advocate for the MCI
submitted that migration would not be permissible
and two instances adverted to by the petitioners,
namely, of (i) College at Jhajjar Haryana and (ii) ESI-
PGIMSR College, Andheri at Mumbai were in the
peculiar facts and circumstances of those cases. He
submitted that in the first case, the College itself was
closed and therefore the entire batch of the students
was accommodated in different colleges while in the
second case there was a fire at the institution and
therefore the students were temporarily shifted to
another institution.

Ms. Indira Jaising, learned Senior Advocate submitted
that the issue of migration was completely unrelated
to the matter concerning bail and the conditions
imposed at the stage of grant of bail; that in case the
petitioners were denied migration, the remedy was in
taking appropriate proceedings in a manner known to
law and that since the Regulations were very clear
that no migration would be permissible, the Court
ought not to pass any orders on the plea of migration.”

By same order, this Court also impleaded B.Y.L. Nair Charity

Hospital; and sought information from the State as regards the status of

trial.

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14. The stands taken by the respective parties in their affidavits-in-

reply are to the following effect:-

A) Deputy Secretary, Medical Education and Drugs

Department, Government of Maharashtra stated:-

“9. It is submitted that, petitioners are holding
MBBS Degree and they are at liberty to practise their
medical profession. Petitioners can prosecute their
Post Graduation at any time in future after conclusion
of the trial, therefore, there is no pressing urgency to
allow petitioners to permit their migration /
accommodation in any other college / hospital. It is
submitted that, Hon’ble High Court has already
expedited trial in the present case and directed that,
trial should be concluded within 10 months from the
date of framing of charges.”

B) The Dean of the College and the Hospital relied upon the

Medical Council of India Post Graduate Medical Education

Regulations, 2000 (‘2000 Regulations’, for short) framed by the

Medical Council of India, to submit that no migration/transfer of

student undergoing any Post Graduate Degree/Diploma/Super

Speciality course is permitted. In the additional affidavit it was

asserted:-

“7. All the candidates joining the post-graduate
training programme shall work as ‘Full Time
Residents’ during the period of training and shall
attend not less than 80% (Eighty percent) of the
imparted training during each Academic Term of six
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months including assignments assessed full time
responsibilities and participation in all facets of the
educational process.”

C) The Complainant placed on record copy of the Order of

Suspension dated 27.05.2019 and the provisions of 1999 Act and

Regulations of the Medical Council of India on the issue of

prohibition of ragging in Medical Colleges.

15. One of the submissions urged by the Appellants is that the

observations of the High Court in the last sentence of para 10 are capable

of being construed as a direction to the Special Judge seized of the matter

to frame the charges and thereafter conclude the proceedings within ten

months. It is submitted that the trial is still at the stage of compliance of

Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and that the Appellants would be

within their rights to file an application for discharge. However, the last

sentence in para 10 may hamper consideration of their application for

discharge.

We do not think that said sentence can be considered as a mandate

to the Special Judge to frame charges. For the sake of clarity, we direct

that the matter shall be considered purely on merits at the stage of

consideration whether charges need to be framed or not. If any
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application for discharge is preferred by the appellants, the same be

considered in accordance with law.

16. We now come to the submissions of Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned

Senior Advocate for the Appellants which are to the following effect:-

i) Relying on the decisions of this Court in Sumit Mehta vs.

State (NCT of Delhi)2 and Kunar Kumar Tiwari alias Kunar

Kumar vs. State of Bihar and another3, it is submitted that in

terms of Section 437(3) of the Code, the courts undoubtedly are

entitled to impose conditions which are necessary “otherwise in the

interest of justice”. However, as held by this Court, such

conditions cannot be arbitrary, fanciful or extend beyond the ends

of the provision.

ii) Condition no.(iv), as imposed, is resulting in negation of the

rights of the Appellants to continue their studies in the College and

thus directly infringes their rights guaranteed under Article 21 of

the Constitution of India.

iii) The Appellants are not insisting that they be allowed to go

back to the College, if the Appellants can be allowed
2 (2013) 15 SCC 570
3 (2018) 16 SCC 74
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transfer/migration to any other college in the city of Mumbai.

Apart from the College, there are two other Medical Colleges run

by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and one more

College run by State of Maharashtra located in Mumbai and there

are various other Health Care Centres and Hospitals. The

Appellants can be attached to any of these institutions so that they

can complete their course of study.

iv) The Appellants have completed two years of three years’

course and what they may be required to put in for the third year of

course will be just about nine months of actual residency as the

students are normally entitled to study leave for three months.

Thus, it would be a question of accommodation for nine months.

v) Out of the witnesses cited in the charge sheet to be examined

by the prosecution, there are 12 Post Graduate students who are not

permanently in employment of the College and the Hospital. Out of

those 12 witnesses, 5 have already completed their course and

passed out in May, 2020, while other 5 will pass out in May, 2021

and remaining 2 students will pass out in May 2022. All the other
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witnesses are permanently in employment of the College and the

Hospital.

vi) In any case, as observed by the High Court in the order dated

09.08.2019, statements under Section 164 of the Code of all

material witnesses having been recorded, there would be no

occasion even to apprehend any attempt on part of the Appellants

to influence any of the witnesses.

vii) By whatever modality that the Court deems appropriate to

direct, an avenue be created whereunder the Appellants are allowed

to pursue and complete their course of study. The stand taken by

the Deputy Secretary, Medical Education and Drugs Department,

Government of Maharashtra, which was reflected in para 11 of the

order under appeal, is not correct and the suggested course of

action will completely jeopardise the career of the Appellants.

viii) The Order of Suspension dated 27.05.2019 was purely based

on the FIR lodged against the Appellants. The suspension of two of

the Appellants by the Maharashtra Medical Council was again

based on direction (v) issued by the High Court in order dated
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09.08.2019. In any case, said suspension by the Maharashtra

Medical Council now stands revoked.

17. It is submitted by Mr. Sachin Patil, learned Advocate for the State

that this Court had initially issued notice to see whether the Appellants

could be transferred or allowed migration to any other college/institution

and that two examples relied upon by the Appellants are completely

distinguishable. He has submitted that the Suspension Order dated

27.05.2019 issued under the signature of the Dean of the Hospital and the

College still being in existence and force, the Appellants cannot be allowed

to go back to their course of study. It is further submitted that though the

statements of more than 100 witnesses were recorded during investigation,

the prosecution may confine itself to examination of only 60 witnesses and

with the observations by the High Court expediting the process of trial, the

trial will get over at an early date.

18. Mr. Gaurav Sharma, learned Advocate for the Medical Council of

India has submitted that for a student undergoing Post Graduation course,

he/she must be attached to a particular Guide and the student is not allowed

to change the Guide during the course. It is submitted that the examples

relied upon by the Appellants were examples of an extraordinary situation
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where the entire batch was permitted to be shifted to another college under

the orders of the Medical Council of India. It is reiterated that under the

Regulations in question, migration to any other college is not permissible

at all. On the question whether there is any time limit for completion of

Post Graduation course, Mr. Sharma has responded that there used to be a

limit of five years within which the course had to be completed but now

there is no such outer limit. He further stated that once a candidate is

registered for a Post Graduate course, he/she cannot take up any other

course while such registration is continuing.

19. Ms. Indira Jaising, learned Senior Advocate, appearing for the

Complainant has submitted that the Order of Suspension dated 27.05.2019

was based on the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee and that neither

there was any challenge to the Order of Suspension nor was said

suspension revoked. It is submitted that in the face of suspension by the

College, the Appellants cannot be allowed to resume their course of study.

It is further submitted that once the Order of Suspension is in force, in

terms of Regulation 8.1 of 2009 Regulations, the Appellants would not be

allowed to attend any class and have academic privileges. It is submitted

that the Complainant had not challenged the order granting bail as the

order came with the condition that the Appellants would not be allowed to
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enter the College. Going by the apprehension expressed by Dr. Ganesh

Shinde, if the Appellants are allowed to go back to the College, there is a

possibility of witnesses getting influenced.

20. Mr. B.H. Marlapalle, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the

College and the Hospital has submitted that as per oral instructions

received by him, the Order of Suspension was based on the opinion of the

Anti- Ragging Committee.

21. We may now consider the relevant statutory provisions:-

A) Sections 4, 5 and 6 of 1999 Act are to the following effect:-

“4. Whoever directly or indirectly commits,
participates in, abets or propagates ragging within or
outside any educational institution shall, on
conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term
which may

extend to two years and shall also be liable to a fine
which may extend to ten thousand rupees.

5. Any student convicted of an offence under Section
4
shall be dismissed from the educational institution
and such student shall not be admitted in any other
educational institution for a period of five years from
the date of order of such dismissal.

6. (1) Whenever any student or, as the case may
be, the parent or guardian, or a teacher of an
educational institution complains, in writing, of
ragging to the head of the educational
institution, the head of that educational
institution shall, without prejudice to the
foregoing provisions, within seven days of the
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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

receipt of the complaint, enquire into the matter
mentioned in the complaint and if, prima facie,
it is found true, suspend the student who is
accused of the offence, and shall, immediately
forward the complaint to the Police Station
having jurisdiction over the area in which the
educational institution is situated, for further
action.

(2) Where, on enquiry by the head of the
educational institution, it is proved that there is
no substance, prima facie, in the complaint
received under sub-section (1), he shall intimate
the fact, in writing to the complainant.

(3) The decision of the head of the educational
institution that the student has indulged in
ragging under sub-section (1), shall be final.”

B) Relevant parts of clauses 13.2 and 13.3 of 2000 Regulations

are:-

“All the candidates joining the Post Graduate training
programme shall work as ‘Full Time Residents’
during the period of training and shall attend not less
than 80% (Eighty percent) of the imparted training
during each academic year including assignments,
assessed full time responsibilities and participation in
all facets of the educational process.”

MIGRATION

Under no circumstances, Migration /transfer of
student undergoing any Post Graduate
Degree/Diploma/Super Speciality course shall be
permitted by any University/Authority.”
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C) Paras 7 and 8 of the Medical Council of India (Prevention

and Prohibition of Ragging in Medical Colleges/Institutions) Regulations,

2009 (‘2009 Regulations’, for short) read as under:-

“7. Regulatory Measures – The inspecting / visiting
committees of MCI shall cross verify that the medical
college/institution has strictly complied with the anti
ragging measures and has a blemishless record in
terms of there being no incident of ragging during the
impending period (i.e. from earlier inspection) or
otherwise.

8. Awardable Punishments

8.1 At the Medical College/Institution level:

Depending upon the nature and gravity of the
offence as established by the Anti-Ragging
Committee of the institution, the possible
punishments for those found guilty of ragging at
the institution level shall be anyone or any
combination of the following:

8.1.1 Suspension from attending classes and
academic privileges.

8.1.2 Withholding/ withdrawing scholarship/
fellowship and other benefits

8.1.3 Debarring from appearing in any
test/examination or other evaluation Process.

8.1.4 Withholding results

8.1.5 Debarring from representing the institution
in any regional, national or international meet,
tournament, youth festival, etc.

8.1.6 Suspension/expulsion from the hostel

8.1.7 Cancellation of admission
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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

8.1.8 Rustication from the institution for period
ranging from 1 to 4 semesters

8.1.9 Expulsion from the institution and
consequent debarring from admission to any
other institution for a specific period.

8.1.10 Fine of Rs.25,000/- and Rs.1 lakh.

8.1.11 Collective punishment: When the
persons committing or abetting the crime of
ragging are not identified, the institution shall
resort to collective punishment.

8.2 Penal consequences for the heads of the
institutions/ administration of the institution who
do not take timely steps in the prevention of
ragging and punishing those who rag.

The authorities of the institution particularly the Head
of the institution, shall be responsible to ensure that
no incident of ragging takes place in the institution.
In case any incident of ragging takes place, the Head
shall take prompt and appropriate action against the
person(s) whose dereliction of duty lead to the
incident. The authority designated to appoint the
Head shall, in its turn, take prompt and appropriate
action against the Head.

In addition to the penal consequences, departmental
enquiries be initiated against such heads institutions /
members of the administration / faculty members /
non-teaching staff, who display an apathetic or
insensitive attitude towards complaints of ragging.”

22. We may also note the relevant portions of the decisions that were

relied upon.

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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

A) In Sumit Mehta vs. State (NCT of Delhi)2, it was

observed:-

“11. While exercising power under Section 438 of the
Code, the court is duty-bound to strike a balance
between the individual’s right to personal freedom
and the right of investigation of the police. For the
same, while granting relief under Section 438(1),
appropriate conditions can be imposed under Section
438(2)
so as to ensure an uninterrupted investigation.
The object of putting such conditions should be to
avoid the possibility of the person hampering the
investigation. Thus, any condition, which has no
reference to the fairness or propriety of the
investigation or trial, cannot be countenanced as
permissible under the law. So, the discretion of the
court while imposing conditions must be exercised
with utmost restraint.

12. The law presumes an accused to be innocent till
his guilt is proved. As a presumably innocent person,
he is entitled to all the fundamental rights including
the right to liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the
Constitution.

13. We also clarify that while granting anticipatory
bail, the courts are expected to consider and keep in
mind the nature and gravity of accusation, antecedents
of the applicant, namely, about his previous
involvement in such offence and the possibility of the
applicant to flee from justice. It is also the duty of the
court to ascertain whether accusation has been made
with the object of injuring or humiliating him by
having him so arrested. It is needless to mention that
the courts are duty-bound to impose appropriate
conditions as provided under sub-section (2) of
Section 438 of the Code.

14. Thus, in the case on hand, fixed deposit of Rs
1,00,00,000 for a period of six months in the name of
the complainant and to keep the FDR with the
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investigating officer as a condition precedent for grant
of anticipatory bail is evidently onerous and
unreasonable. It must be remembered that the court
has not even come to the conclusion whether the
allegations made are true or not which can only be
ascertained after completion of trial. Certainly, in no
words are we suggesting that the power to impose a
condition of this nature is totally excluded, even in
cases of cheating, electricity pilferage, white-collar
crimes or chit fund scams, etc.

15. The words “any condition” used in the provision
should not be regarded as conferring absolute power
on a court of law to impose any condition that it
chooses to impose. Any condition has to be
interpreted as a reasonable condition acceptable in the
facts permissible in the circumstance and effective in
the pragmatic sense and should not defeat the order of
grant of bail. We are of the view that the present facts
and circumstances of the case do not warrant such
extreme condition to be imposed.”

B) In Kunal Kumar Tiwari v. State of Bihar and Another 3,

this Court observed:-

“5. Today on behalf of the appellant, it was contended
that the High Court while passing the aforesaid order
for anticipatory bail, a condition like the one imposed
could not have been imposed.

… … …

8. Before we analyse the case at hand, first a word on
interpretation. It is well-settled legal proposition that
in interpreting a provision of an Act, a construction
that would promote the purpose or object underlying
the Act (whether that purpose or object is expressly
stated in the Act or not) should be preferred to an
interpretation that would not promote the object.

9. There is no dispute that clause (c) of Section 437(3)
allows courts to impose such conditions in the interest
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of justice. We are aware that palpably such wordings
are capable of accepting broader meaning. But such
conditions cannot be arbitrary, fanciful or extend
beyond the ends of the provision. The phrase “interest
of justice” as used under the clause (c) of Section
437(3)
means “good administration of justice” or
“advancing the trial process” and inclusion of broader
meaning should be shunned because of purposive
interpretation.

10. Coming back to the case at hand, from the perusal
of the impugned order it is clear that the court
exceeded its jurisdiction in imposing such arbitrary
conditions. Some of the conditions imposed are
highly onerous and are absurd. Such onerous
anticipatory bail conditions are alien and cannot be
sustained in the eye of the law. The conditions
imposed appear to have no nexus with the good
administration of justice or advancing the trial
process, rather it is an overzealous exercise in utter
disregard to the very purpose of the criminal justice
system.”

23. At the outset, it must be stated that notice was issued to see if

going back to the College would not be feasible, whether the Appellants

could be allowed migration to any other college/institution so that both

the elements viz. (i) relating to the career and prospects of the Appellants

and (ii) the interest of the prosecution in keeping the witnesses away

from the possibility of influence by the Appellants; would get satisfied

and taken care of. Therefore, focussing attention on two instances given

by the Appellants, responses were called for. However, as the situation

now obtains, the stand of the Medical Council of India is clear that
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“under no circumstances migration is permissible” for students

undergoing Post Graduate medical courses. Mr. Gaurav Sharma, learned

Advocate, has gone to the extent of emphasizing that the students who

register themselves for Post Graduate medical courses, have to be under

a particular Guide and complete the entire course under the supervision

of that Guide alone. The matter, therefore, has travelled far from what

was noted and noticed in the beginning and now the respondents have

placed the Order of Suspension of the Appellants on record and insist

that so long as the Order of Suspension is in operation, the Appellants

cannot be allowed to go back to their course of study.

24. We are, thus, called upon to consider the competing claims in such

a way that the individual rights of the Appellants to pursue their courses

of study are secured and, at the same time, the conduct of prosecution

also runs smoothly and without any interference and possibility of

witnesses getting won over. In that view, it must be noted:-

a) The Appellants before us are three lady doctors who are

pursuing Post Graduate medical course (M.D.) in Gynaecology

and Obstetrics and have completed two years out of three

years’ of course. The course is well coveted and considered to

be a specialty course in that field. The Appellants do not
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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

appear to be original residents of Mumbai and, as such, it

cannot be said that they or their families have deep-rooted

presence in Mumbai.

b) As noticed by this Court in Sumit Mehta2, 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 exercise of said right does not

hamper smooth conduct and progress of the prosecution.

c) The stand taken by the State through the affidavit filed by the

Deputy Secretary, Medical Education and Drugs Department,

Government of Maharashtra, is that the Appellants can

prosecute their Post Graduate course in future after conclusion

of the trial. Said submission and the observation by the High

Court in para 11 of the order, in our view, are not correct. Even

a convict is allowed to have academic pursuits while

undergoing sentence and develop his potential as a human

being to the fullest. The State apparatus must facilitate such

pursuits rather than hamper any attempts in that behalf. The
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Appellants, therefore, by any standard, are entitled to continue

their courses of study subject to the caveat expressed earlier.

d) It is a matter of record that as observed by the High Court in

para 13 of its order dated 09.08.2019, the statements of all

material witnesses have been recorded under Section 164 of the

Code. In fact, the High Court went to the extent of ensuring

that such statements are recorded so that witnesses could not be

won over by the Appellants after they were enlarged on bail.

Therefore, the apprehension that the witnesses could be

influenced is not quite correct.

e) The majority of witnesses to be examined by the prosecution

appear to be in permanent employment of the College and the

Hospital. It will be difficult to imagine that three lady doctors

who do not otherwise belong to Mumbai will be able to

influence any such witnesses by their mere presence in the

College and the Hospital.

f) The Appellants require to put in the last year of their course

and as stated by Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned Senior

Advocate, the actual period that they need to undergo by way

of training is only nine months.

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It is, thus, a question of putting those nine months in one scale and

see whether the other scale becomes so weighty that the request to allow

them to pursue their courses must be rejected.

25. Another issue raised is about the Order of Suspension passed

against the Appellants. The facts on record indicate that the report of the

Anti-Ragging Committee and the Order of Suspension were issued on

the same date i.e. on 27.05.2019. The submission of Mr. Sidharth

Luthra, learned Senior Advocate, that the Order of Suspension was not

based on the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee merits acceptance

because of following features viz. (a) the outward number for the Order

of Suspension is NDN/172 while that of the report of Anti-Ragging

Committee is NDN/183, which means the Order of Suspension was

issued earlier to the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee; (b) both the

communications are under the signature of the Dean of the College and

the Hospital and yet, the Order of Suspension does not make any

reference to the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee; (c) the Order of

Suspension is based purely on the registration of FIR registered against

the Appellants which is why “taking cognizance of this” the Order of

Suspension was passed; and (d) when a request for revocation of

suspension was made, it was rejected on 25.10.2019 because of order
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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

dated 09.08.2019 of the High court and not because of the report of the

Anti-Ragging Committee.

26. The relevant provisions of 1999 Act show that if any student is

found guilty of ragging or abetment of ragging, he can, on conviction be

punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years and by

virtue of Section 5, any student convicted of such offence shall be

dismissed from the educational institution and cannot be admitted in any

other educational institution for a period of five years. We are not

concerned with any eventuality arising or occurring by virtue of Sections

4 and 5 of 1999 Act.

To take appropriate action under Section 6(1) of 1999 Act, the

concerned head of the educational institution must prima facie be

satisfied that the allegations against the student have been found to be

true, whereafter, an order of suspension can be passed.

As stated hereinabove, the Order of Suspension does not even

record any such finding or prima facie view. As a matter of fact, the

Order of Suspension was not passed by virtue of power entrusted under

Section 6(1) of 1999 Act but was based on the grounds that the

Appellants were creating hurdles in the enquiry by the police and that
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Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.

there was an FIR against them. We, thus, conclude that the Order of

Suspension is not referable to Section 6(1) of 1999 Act.

Apart from Section 6(1) as aforesaid, no other statutory provision

has been referred to or relied upon.

27. Para 8.1 of 2009 Regulations framed by the Medical Council of

India is applicable to cases where a student has been ‘found guilty of

ragging’ which presupposes valid exercise of power. The effects

contemplated by said Para 8.1 come into operation only thereafter.

28. In our considered view, neither the provisions of 1999 Act nor

2009 Regulations get attracted to the present case.

29. We are, therefore, left with a bare Suspension Order dated

27.05.2019 which was not based on the provisions of 1999 Act. A

submission is raised by Ms. Indira Jaising, learned Senior Advocate,

appearing for the Complainant that in a matter arising from the request

for relaxation of condition, no collateral attack on the Suspension Order

be permitted. It is submitted by her and Mr. Sachin Patil, learned

Advocate for the State that the Appellants are free to challenge the Order

of Suspension and so long as that order is not set aside, the Appellants

cannot be allowed to come back to the College or the Hospital.
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30. We do not find any merit in the aforesaid submissions. Relaxation

sought in respect of condition no. (iv) takes within its fold all

submissions with respect to matters arising from the registration of the

crime and steps undertaken pursuant thereto. Since the Order of

Suspension was passed purely as a result of registration of crime and did

not have any roots in statutory powers conferred under Section 6 of 1999

Act, in our view, this Court can certainly grant redress to the Appellants.

31. While balancing the competing claims, in our view, the Appellants

must be allowed to go back to their courses of study otherwise the

pendency of prosecution against them will add further penalty in the

form of prejudicing their career. Any such adverse impact will negate

their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.

32. Considering the matter in its entirety and especially when the

Appellants have to undergo training under the same guide and in the

same institution where they were registered, in our considered view, ends

of justice would be met if condition no. (iv) as laid down by the High

Court is relaxed and the Appellants are permitted to go back to the

College and the Hospital to pursue their studies, subject to the following

conditions:-

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i) The Appellants shall not, in any manner, influence or even

attempt to influence any of the witnesses.

ii) 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.

iii) 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.

iv) The Appellants shall avail study leave, as suggested by Mr.

Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior Advocate, so that their actual

period of stay inside the College and the Hospital gets reduced

to the maximum possible level.

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v) 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.

vi) If there be any untoward incident as apprehended by Dr. Ganesh

Shinde, Head of Department, 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.

33. Subject to the conditions, as stated hereinabove, the Appellants

shall be permitted to re-enter the College and the Hospital to pursue their

courses of study. This Order shall come into effect at the beginning of

the second term of academic session 2020-2021 and if such term has

already begun, it shall come into effect from 12.10.2020. It is made

clear that the Appellants shall be permitted to pursue their courses of

study regardless of the Order of Suspension dated 27.05.2019.

34. Copies of this Judgment shall be sent to the Trial Court and the

concerned Police Station for record and compliance.
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35. The appeals stand allowed in aforementioned terms.

..…………………….J.

(Uday Umesh Lalit)

..…..……………….J.

(Vineet Saran)

..…..……………….J.

(Ajay Rastogi)

New Delhi;

8th October, 2020.



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