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.