Tamil Nadu

Paleswaram hospice gets back custody of 278 destitutes

HC intervenes after death of some former inmates at govt-recognised homes

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Kancheepuram police to forthwith hand over the custody of 278 aged destitutes to St. Joseph’s Hospice at Paleswaram after it was reported that 12 out of 290 inmates shifted out from the hospice last month had died in government-recognised institutions.

Passing interim orders on a habeas corpus petition filed by Father V. Thomas who runs the hospice, a Division Bench of Justices C.T. Selvam and N. Sathish Kumar also directed the Kancheepuram District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) to be present in the court on Wednesday to explain as to how the inmates were shifted out without Collector’s permission.

 

One of the 290 inmates shifted out died in St. Joseph’s hospice (after allegations of irregularities) itself when the shifting was taking place and seven died after being shifted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Chengalpattu. One more inmate escaped from the hospital and is missing. The rest of the 281 inmates were lodged in 17 different government recognised homes in Kancheepuram, Vellore, Villupuram and Chennai.

Petitioner’s demand

Of the 281, two men died at Saranalayam Trust in Vaniyambadi in Vellore district and one woman died at the Kirubalaya Palliative Care Home in Villupuram. At present, 278 of them are residing in government recognised homes and therefore, they need not be produced before the court as demanded by the petitioner, the Assistant Public Prosecutor said.

During the course of hearing on Tuesday, Additional Public Prosecutor M. Mohamed Riyaz told the court that the petitioner had been running the hospice since 2011 and it had been catering to the needs of destitutes who were on the verge of death. Its registration had expired on September 15, 2017, and was not renewed or extended thereafter. The hospice came to adverse notice early this year when it allegedly transported vegetables along with the dead body of one of its inmates in an ambulance. This led to several criminal complaints. Thereafter, the DSWO shifted 290 inmates to government-recognised homes between February 26 and 28.

However, the petitioner’s counsel took strong exception to forcible shifting of the elderly inmates from the hospice where they were living comfortably and accused the government officials of having acted in a haste. The change in environment and absence of familiar surroundings itself could be a reason for the 12 deaths that had taken place, he claimed.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:38:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/paleswaram-hospice-gets-back-custody-of-278-destitutes/article23367909.ece

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