Ram Kumar, a 72-year-old man, had the most torrid 20 days of his life when he was confined illegally at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) after his outburst during a court proceeding. Ram Kumar, confined because of three successive orders by a Delhi magistrate, was frustrated over the slow pace of the trial. He was released only on November 25 after his family moved the Delhi High Court, which kept the plea pending against the trial court judge, the Delhi government, IHBAS and its doctors and the police to consider the constitutional and legal issues.
On Thursday, in its final verdict, a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta apologised to the man, who is a heart patient, saying his case presented “a dismal failure of our system, which includes the police, the judiciary and the mental health professionals, to protect the fundamental rights of an individual”. The court also pointed to the “disastrous consequences” that the abuse of the mental health law can have on the right to liberty, dignity and privacy. A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta also directed that a token compensation of Rs 2 lakh be paid by Delhi government to Kumar within four weeks.
The Delhi High court, on the petition of Ram Kumar’s family, found that the orders passed by the magistrate on three different occasions was “illegal and unconstitutional”, and ordered his father’s immediate release on November 25. Following his release, Kumar underwent a heart procedure on November 29. After this incident, the High Court has now asked the legal services authority to survey all mental health facilities in Delhi to see if there are other people who have been detained illegally.
Ram Kumar was on his own fighting a 10-year-long motor accident claim dispute, and on November 3 last year allegedly got into an altercation with the opposing side and used unparliamentary language during the proceedings.He was then sent to police custody to Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar (BSA) Hospital for psychiatric evaluation on the orders of the Presiding Officer of the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT). Later in the day, he was produced before a Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) who ordered that he be sent to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) to be kept under observation for 24 hours.On November 5, 2017, his stay at IBHAS was extended by another 15 days by a duty magistrate.