Prisoners of their minds, and of a heartless system
Over 350 mentally unsound under-trials are languishing in asylums without trial in judicial custody for years, sometimes decades, report Bhadra Sinha and Satya Prakash.Updated: Sep 07, 2007, 01:57 IST
Over 350 mentally unsound under-trials are languishing in asylums in judicial custody for years, sometimes decades, seemingly because India’s overburdened justice system has no time for those who are not “normal”.
The shocking revelations have been made in reports submitted by 18 high courts to the Supreme Court.
Communist-ruled Kerala and West Bengal seem to be the most insensitive: 57 and 50 mentally unstable prisoners are rotting in asylums in these states without trial. Madhya Pradesh with over 45 cases and UP with 35 top the shame list in the Hindi heartland. Delhi has reported 4 cases, and much-maligned Bihar, only 2.
Among the cases is that of 65-year-old Chandram, held in a Kerala mental asylum for 38 years without trial. If convicted of murder, he would have been out in 14.
Kumar Naika, 18, has been confined in a Karnataka asylum since the time he was 9. He is accused of causing simple injury, which attracts at the most a two-year sentence. And he is not even mentally ill.
And 65-year-old Prakasho, held for 34 years for alleged kidnapping and “vaguely” suffering from “mental abnormality”, would have been out in seven years.
Appalling is the case of Mohammaed Abdul Jabbar, 47, whose ailment has been described by the Maharashtra government as “shouting”. Accused of damaging a place of worship, he has spent 7 years in an asylum.