JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN, MUMBAI

To,

Dr. Shivkumar Shankar Utture

President

Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC)

Mumbai

Dear Dr. Utture ji,

Sub: The obligation of the MMC to uphold the standard of medical ethics and show zero tolerance to the caste, communal and ethnic prejudices and ragging/atrocities based on them among members of the medical profession

Ref: The action and inaction in the case of Dr. Payal Tadvi who was driven to suicide on 22 May 20119 at Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair Medical College, Mumbai

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) is a national network of health activists, including doctors and others, working on the health and healthcare across the country. The Mumbai Chapter of the JSA is associated with the campaign for the justice for Dr. Payal Tadvi.

Drs Bhakti Mehare, Ankita Khandelwal and Hema Ahuja, the doctors senior to Dr. Tadvi, allegedly used caste, communal and ethnics prejudices to harass and eventually drive Dr. Tadvi to suicide. The High Court had ordered suspension of registration of all three accused doctors due to the gravity of their offenses. The MMC never opposed the suspension of their registration by the High court and so it remained in force. However, on February 21, 2020, the High Court vacate the suspension of registration on the ground that the MMC has the authority to do such suspension and conduct inquiry on their conduct in a timely manner.

The MMC did not have any obligation to revoke the suspension when the High Court vacated its suspension order as the MMC has power to affect such suspension. More so when a complaint by the mother of the deceased Dr. Payal Tadvi, about the gross violation of code of medical ethics or misconduct, against the three accused doctors, was already pending for long before the MMC for action. Indeed, the law also empowers the MMC not to wait for any complaint and take suo moto action, more so in this case where the life of a doctor hailing from the most marginalised section of population was cut short by blatant prejudicial behaviour of the accused and reputation of the medical profession at large was at stake. 

However, instead of choosing an ethical course of action, the MMC revoked the suspension and has done nothing of significance since Dr. Tadvi’s death over a year back to hold inquiry and take decision. 

Such behaviour of the MMC only shows high level of tolerance, bordering on the protection, to the caste, communal and ethnic prejudices, and ragging and atrocities based on them, within the profession and with the society. Such tolerance contravenes the very ethical foundation of the medical profession.

We therefore demand:

  1. the registration of the three accused doctors may be kept in suspension as the High court had done, 
  2. the inquiry into the complaint filed by Dr. Tadvi’s mother for the gross misconduct of the accused that resulted in the death by suicide of Dr. Tadvi, be completed in a credible and time bound manner and at the earliest. 

For JSA Avinash Kadam, Brinelle Dsouza and Kamayani BaliMahabal

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