People should be sensitive to the problems and rights faced by the mentally disabled persons and they should not in anyway directly or indirectly do any harm to them and aggravate their medical conditions, according to F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, Judge, Madras High Court.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating a ‘Legal Aid Clinic,' here on Thursday, the Judge said that the clinic would help the disabled people through whatever legal means available to render justice and make them lead a life without anyone impinging upon their fundamental rights. The clinic will be run by M.S.Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation with support from the District Legal Services Authority, Madurai.

Mr. Kalifullah appreciated the efforts of advocates Raja Mohammed and S. Muthukumar, who had submitted a petition in the court after enumerating the number of persons who were mentally disabled and were found roaming on roads in Madurai.

It prompted the Madras High Court Bench to pass an interim order directing the Health Secretary and Commissioner of Police to take custody of them and admit them in psychiatry institutions. He also called upon advocates to be socially conscious and help mainstreaming the disabled.

Speaking earlier, Judge P. Jyothimani, Madras High Court, said that the Constitution had guaranteed ‘Right to Live' as a fundamental right and it did not have any discrimination on the status of the health of the individual. Later he explained the various facets of law in protecting the rights of the mentally challenged.

G.M. Akbar Ali, Judge, Madras High Court, cited a couple of instances on how he, along with others as part of District Legal Services Authority, intervened in rehabilitating a law student, who was found abandoned on the streets of Chennai, to become a successful lawyer. He asked the law college students gathered there to take a pledge to serve the mentally disabled.

The Judges also lauded the efforts of M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation in rehabilitating the mentally ill.

27 admitted

Commissioner of Police P. Balasubramanian, in a response to a speech made earlier by a speaker, confirmed that confining cases by citing jurisdiction did not happen anymore in the case of mentally disabled. He also stated that following the High Court direction, 27 mentally challenged persons had been identified and admitted to hospitals. Enlisting the difficulties involved, the Commissioner said that the department was doing its best to admit them in hospitals.

Three out of hundred persons in our State had severe mental disorder, 10 to 15 per cent common mental disorders, 5 to 7 per cent were mentally affected due to alcohol consumption and related disorders and 10 per cent of the children were affected by emotional and behavioural problems, said S. Nambi, Head, Department of Psychiatry, Balaji Medical College.

N. Retnaraj, Principal District Judge, K. Venkatasami, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, A.K. Ramaswamy, Secretary, P. Dharmaraj, president, Madurai Bar Association, C. Ramasubramanian, State Nodal Officer, District Mental Health Programme, were among the others who spoke.

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