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NHRC focuses on plight of mentally ill prisoners

DNIS News Network - The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has filed an intervention application in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana to assist the Court in the pending civil writ petition in the case of mentally disabled crime suspects.

The case arose when Jai Singh mentally ill prisoners, was found to have been languishing in Ambala Jail for the past 27 years. He was admitted as a suspect in a murder case in 1977 but in 1979 was admitted to Amritsar Mental hospital and diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. He has never been brought to trial. NHRC approached the court in order to prevent further violation of his human rights.

The commission received the reports from the Superintendent, Mental Hospital, Amritsar, the Superintendent, Central Jail, Ambala, DIG, Ambala Range and Additional Sessions Judge, Kurukshetra on the case.

The reports said the case would only be summoned when Jai Singh was considered fit to stand trial. The Director, Institute of Mental Health (Government Mental Hospital, Amritsar) certified in January this year that he continues to suffer from chronic schizophrenia and is unfit to stand trial in the court.

While dealing with the case, the NHRC also received a representation from the Jai Singh's wife Maya Devi who complained that even she was not allowed to meet her husband in the hospital and prays for his release on humanitarian grounds.

NHRC is hoping its intervention application will ensure that the Cr.PC provisions relating to the trial of "persons of unsound mind" will begin to address the needs of the long-term mentally ill.