Life sentence of man suffering from schizophrenia set aside

HC directs kin to monitor and take care of him


Taking cognisance of the fact that a convict in a murder case was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the occurrence of the crime, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday set aside his life imprisonment awarded by the Sessions Judge, Tirunelveli.

The court was hearing the case of Selvakumar from Shencottai, who hacked to death one Mahesh. It was said that in 2009 Selvakumar demanded ₹50 from Mahesh. After he was refused the money, he hacked Mahesh to death with a billhook.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathan and N. Anand Venkatesh took into account medical reports which said that the accused was suffering from psychological illness. He was being treated for the illness even prior to the incident, it was said.

Setting aside the order of the lower court, the Bench directed the family members to monitor and take care of him. They should not allow him to cause injuries to third parties. Proper medication should be provided to him, the court said.

Parting with the judgement, the Bench observed that mental illness could be caused by traumatic experiences that involved abuse, neglect or violence. Other factors included genetic predisposition, biochemical imbalances or excessive stress brought on by debilitating medical conditions.

Such persons should be taken care of by at least two persons and the caretakers should be in a position to identify the symptoms. Schizophrenia patients should not be isolated in homes and, instead, be motivated, encouraged and involved in social functions.

Medications should not be discontinued without the diagnosis of doctors and they had to be taken for periodical mental health check-ups. The caretakers should be aware of their own safety during the exercise, the court said.

Further, the court observed that caretakers must create a second line to ensure that even in their short absence, the next person in line was able to afford the same care and attention to the patients, so that they did not feel ignored or isolated, the court said.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 9:02:51 AM |

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