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S.C. awards compensation to an undertrial who spent over 50 years in a mental asylum

D.N.I.S. News Network - The Supreme Court has awarded a compensation of Rs. three lakhs to a 77-year-old man who spent 54-years of his life as an undertrial in a mental asylum and also ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.

Machal Lalung was arrested at the age of 23 in 1951 under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily causing grievous injuries. But he ended up spending next 54 years languishing in Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Mental Hospital, Tezpur before being released this year. Ironically, his case never came up for hearing in the last five decades even once.

Moved by his story, the apex court had sought from the Assam Government the factual position of the case. Perusing the materials placed before it, a Bench of Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Justice C. K. Thakker and Justice R. V. Raveendran directed state government to constitute a panel to file a preliminary report on the incident within two months.

The court said the inquiry would be conducted by a judicial officer nominated by the Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court and a Secretary level officer named by the state government. The Bench said it would formulate guidelines after receiving the report so that no citizen will have to suffer the plight undergone by 77-year old Lalung.

The apex court also directed the Assam Government to give him Rs 1,000 per month to Lalung to meet his expenses, and free treatment and medicines throughout his life in Government hospitals.