Adds police had referred 30 to the home without court orders

An advocate commissioner and a psychologist, both women, appointed by the Madras High Court Bench here have reported to the court that 537 inmates of a destitute home, run by Akshaya Trust at Nagamalai Pulluthu near here, were “having a mere animal existence.”

The report submitted before Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani on Monday stated that “these persons (inmates) do not come on record in any State-maintained records and practically they do not exist in the eye of law. They live and die without any rights whatsoever.”

The Bench had asked advocate D. Geetha and psychologist Rani Chakkravarthy last week to find out the living conditions of the inmates following a public interest litigation petition filed against the home by C. Muthurani of All India Democratic Women’s Association through her counsel U. Nirmala Rani.

After a visit to the home, the advocate commissioner stated that it housed 171 female and 366 male inmates together in six dormitories without any segregation on the basis of their gender. Even those reportedly suffering from mental problems were not segregated from the rest.

“The Managing Trustee (Narayanan Krishnan) states that only 20 persons are accommodated in a dormitory. Even assuming that they are accommodating only 20 persons per dormitory, they need 26 dormitories to accommodate 537 inmates. But only six dormitories are available on the premises,” she said.

Physical abuse

The commissioner also said: “many inmates complained of physical abuse by the staff/administrators of the home… they informed us that they are being beaten up with a log… the inmates said that they are beaten when they ask the staff to send them back to their families.”

Pointing out that all inmates, including women, were tonsured against their wishes immediately after admission to the home, Ms. Geetha said: “Many women narrated that on being brought inside the home they are removed off their jewellery, cash and all their belongings.”

Further, “admittedly 91 inmates are mentally ill. While so, why the rest are detained in the home against their wishes… The administrators of the home have no explanation as to how they identify a person to be a destitute or mentally ill and on what basis they pick up people from public places.”

Claiming that most of the inmates seemed to be under sedation, she said Mr. Krishnan admitted to have been giving Nitrosun tablets to those who get aggressive though the tablets could not be obtained without prescription from a qualified psychiatrist and consumption of two tablets at a time could be fatal.

No professional staff

“There are no professional staff engaged in the Home for the medical treatment of the inmates. There are three or four patients with malignant tumour. Mr. Krishnan states that they are suffering from cancer. But there is no record about the treatment given to them,” she added.

Her report also stated that the administrators of the home claimed that around 30 mentally challenged inmates were picked up from roadsides by the police and referred to them without obtaining orders from the judicial magistrates concerned as required under the Mental Health Act.

In March, 18 inmates of the home had died and eight of them were below 48 years of age. In June, six inmates, aged between 42 and 64, had died.

“No post-mortem was done. All the deaths are certified as due to cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest,” the report added.

After recording it, the judges directed the advocate commissioner and psychologist to make another visit to the home and find out by Thursday the exact number of mentally challenged people, the mode of branding them so and the exact number of inmates who were lodged against their wishes.

More In: Madurai