Human Rights Law Network


Media Reports

Behind the bars of schizophrenia

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Thiruvananthapuram: When 40 schizophrenic undertrials and 181 schizophrenic convicts are languishing at the three Mental Health Centres and at the Central Prisons in the State for more than three decades, it reveals the extent of the callousness being meted out to them.

Though the Hospital Monitoring Committee and Jail Advisory Committees are being convened regularly, the fact that these schizophrenics continue to languish only exposes that these committees are not doing their job. But while jail DGP Alexander Jacob blames mental health law, criminologist and former DGP Dr. P. J. Alexander blames society for the stigma towards mentally deranged persons in particular and prisoners in general.

While prison and MHC authorities lament that they are helpless as long as the Courts do not come to their aid, Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan has underlined the need for them to be shifted them back to the prison. But prison authorities cite the lack of psychologists and psychiatrists in prisons.

J. Sandhya, lawyer attached to Human Rights Law network, is hopeful that when the High Court considers her petition on Thursday, it will take into consideration the need for the rehabilitation of mentally challenged under trials. Sandhya had received RTI information that there are five and 11 schizophrenics languishing Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode MHC’s respectively since the last 18 - 30 years.

“Forensic wards in MHCs are miniature forms of ‘prisons’ itself. Prolonged imprisonment of under trials who are mentally challenged amounts to denial of Rights of Life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution”, said Sandhya to DC.

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Govt drivers` association team leaves Imphal

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IMPHAL, June 6: The All Manipur Govt Drivers’ And Technicians’ Association has notified in a statement that a team of six members led by its president Dr O Nobo Singh has left Imphal for New Delhi today to take part in the 4th National Conference of the All India State Govt Driver’s Federation to be held on June 8 at New Delhi.

Manipur High Court prohibits quarrying activity in Sekmai River

A division bench of the High Court of Manipur comprising of Chief Justice, Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Nongmeikapam Kotishwar Singh has today issued a notice of motion returnable within two weeks in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed for issuance of a Writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ or order or direction to the State respondents to enforce and implement the Manipur Flood Plain Zoning Act, 1978 effectively by appointing Flood Plain Zoning Authority under Section 3(3) of the Manipur Flood Plain Zoning Act, 1978 so as to prohibit any act of quarrying activity in Sekmai River, said a release of Human Rights Law Network (Manipur).

According to the release, the PIL was filed jointly by Angom Rajesh Singh of Awang Sekmai Khunou; Khwairakpam Chandramani Singh of Awang Sekmai Mayai Leikai; Yumlembam Ibohal Singh of Awang Sekmai Mayai Leikai and Meihoubam Manoj Singh of Awang Sekmai Makha Leikai.

In the said PIL, the petitioners contended that despite the enactment of an Act entitled” Manipur Flood Plain Zoning Act, 1978 by the Government of Manipur to provide for the zoning of the flood plains of rivers in the State of Manipur, the actual implementation of the provisions of the said Act has not been made till date, the release said.

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24 years on, no justice for 5 mentally ill undertrials

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Thiruvananthapuram: Five undertrial schizophrenic prisoners have been languishing in forensic wards at the mental health centre, Peroorkada, for the last 18 to 24 years.

The jail advisory committee and hospital monitoring committee have ignored their plight totally. This has been revealed in an RTI note received by advocate J. Sandhya of Human Rights Law Network.

According to the information, Subash, 32, (for schizophrenic evaluation since May 20, 2013 from Mavelikkara sub-jail),   Das, 55, (schizophrenic since April 8, 1994 from Poojapura central jail), Monichan, 41, (schizophrenic since February 10, 1989 from Kottayam sub-jail), Raghunadhan, 50, (schizophrenic since June 17, 1996 from Mavelikkara sub-jail) and Sojan, 31, (schizophrenic since June 17, 1994 from Poojapura central prison) are facing gross human rights violations.

According to Sandhya, as per law, a mentally challenged person can be tried by courts only if it is certified that he is fit to stand trial. “Over the years, they have controlled behaviour and can live the rest of their lives under ‘supervised medication’ as any other schizophrenic.” “Instead of sending these undertrials to rehabilitation centres, they are still in ‘custody’ in the real sense as forensic wards in MHC are miniature forms of prison,” Sandhya told DC.

Top prison officials told DC that the JAC has to be convened every six months, but the last committee meeting was held on October 14, 2012.

“As they are unfit to stand trial, the respective court has to inform the jail authorities when they have to be produced so that they can be convicted. As long as they are not convicted, we can do nothing,” said a prison official on condition of anonymity.

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India's Poorest Women Coerced Into Sterilization

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Financial incentives have driven the rate of female sterilization up in India, where a family can receive up to $10 for every female member who chooses to be sterilized.

According to the Human Rights Watch, some federal health workers are still threatened by salary cuts or dismissal, though formal targets set by the federal government were abandoned in 1996. Health workers will often coerce women into sterilization — who are unaware that they will not be able to conceive — to meet informal quotas. The pressure is greatest during the approach of the fiscal year’s end in March, a time some call “sterilization season.”

Rather than teach illiterate women how to use pills or contraceptives, which would cost the country more, India opted to compensate women for sterilization in an effort to control its skyrocketing population.

India’s population is expected to surpass China’s in 2021.

More than 4 million women were sterilized in India last year and often in unsanitary rooms with rusted equipment, merely washed in warm water between patients. Sonhoula surgeon A.K. Das said that government-issued equipment was expected to be brand-new, but doctors received rusted tools that could lead to infection instead. He added that he had also run out of anesthesia, forcing him to use a weaker sedative for his remaining patients.

Recovering patients lie on the floor until they are able to carry themselves home.

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The state should implement judges’ decisions

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KARACHI:

Legal experts from both India and Pakistan gathered on Tuesday to pinpoint merits and flaws in the judicial systems as well as the status of human rights in both countries.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Hamdard University School of Law and the India-based Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), provided them the opportunity to do this at a two-day regional workshop on judicial activism and human rights.

Speaking at the occasion, PILER’s executive director, Karamat Ali, said the living conditions of people in both India and Pakistan are terrible but the governments are still victimising fishermen to fuel political rivalry.

Advocate Colin Gonsalves, a speaker from the neighbouring country, said, “In India, 40 percent of the people earn less than Rs100 a day and this causes widespread malnutrition.” He said a that there was a tradition when prisoners used to write letters to courts and judges would turn them into petitions in an attempt to provide relief. “A court can give orders, but it cannot implement it. It is the responsibility of state to implement orders.”

In his speech, Justice (retd) Rashid Razvi, said, “Pakistan has witnessed four rules of military dictatorship and has spent little time under the democratic dispensation.”

In his speech, Advocate Faisal Siddiqi said that it is the state’s responsibility to implement judges’ orders. “In the Karachi violence and Balochistan cases, the judiciary passed order but the state did not implement it.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan from India said in his speech that judges make laws and cited the example of police reforms by the Supreme Court in the Parkash Singh case. “Judges make laws and they should. Their judicial powers can be checked with the use of transparent accountability.”

Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid shed light on the role of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners in releasing the fishermen from jails. According to him, there are 437 Indian prisoners in Malir Jail, out of which 284 have completed their term and are waiting for repatriation. He said that they cannot return to their home countries only because of bureaucratic hurdles.

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.