New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has pulled up the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences(IHBAS) and Metropolitan Magistrates over the detention of a 72-year-old man and acting in contravention to the Mental Health Act.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta censured a trial court judge and others while setting aside the orders passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) and directed that the man is left to the care of his family if he was found fit for discharge.
The court was hearing a plea by the man’s son, who has alleged illegal detention of his father.
The man had been defending a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT) at the Rohini courts for over 10 years as party-in-person. On November 3, the case was listed at the Rohini courts.
Due to some altercation between him and the lawyers appearing for the other side, the Presiding Officer called in the police and decided to send the man for medical evaluation at the Babasaheb Ambedkar (BSA) Hospital.
The man was kept at the BSA Hospital till the evening and thereafter produced before the Duty MM, who passed an order sending him to IHBAS to be kept under observation for 24 hours.
The man’s family members were not informed that he had been detained even though he had been carrying his case papers, which should have easily give the details of his address. He was also carrying his mobile phone.
The MM had noted that his whereabouts and his family was not ascertainable for questioning him.
Thereafter, in another order passed on November 5, the duty MM directed that the man is admitted for 15 days.
His plight did not end there. Another order passed on November 20 directed that he be examined by a Standing Medical Board at IHBAS. As a result of the harassment, the man’s existing heart condition worsened and he was admitted at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital.
Hearing his appeal, the high court observed, the “court is left in no doubt that there has been a total violation of the mandatory provisions of Mental Health Act at every stage in these proceedings.
“In none of the proceedings did the Duty MM/MM ensure that the man was represented by counsel. No question was even put to him in that regard. The orders passed, on the reports of the IHBAS, have resulted in a violation of the fundamental right of the man to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
It directed the IHBAS and all mental health professionals associated with the man’s treatment to explain how without a proper certificate being issued regarding his mental illness, his continued detention in IHBAS was justified.
The bench directed the committees of the high court on the administrative side supervising the MM who passed the detention orders to look into the matter and take appropriate action.
The bench also directed the Director of the Delhi Judicial Academy to organize at least four orientation courses on the Mental Health Act in the coming year to sensitize judicial officers, mental health professionals and the Delhi Police on the topic of mental illness.