NHRC notice to Assam on 5 undertrial prisoners

In psychiatric hospital for 30 to 54 years

Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Shocked at the plight of five undertrial prisoners languishing in a psychiatric hospital for 30 to 54 years in Assam, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notice to the Chief Secretary and Inspector-General (Prisons) asking them to submit reports in two weeks as to how such a thing could happen. The five cases are that of Machang Lalung who has been an undertrial for 54 years, Khalilur Rehman who has been lodged in the Mental Hospital for 35 years, Anil Kumar Burman an undertrial for 33 years, Sonamani Deb an undertrial for 32 years and a woman Parbati Mallik who has been an undertrial for 32 years. Its Special Rapporteur Chaman Lal who visited the LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health on March 31 and April 1 reported the plight of these prisoners to the NHRC.

Machang Lalung was admitted in April 1951 when he was 23 years as an undertrial prisoner of the Guwahati jail. He is now 77 and works in the hospital garden without communicating with anybody. Khalilur Rehman was admitted in December 1969 as a prisoner from the Nagaon District Jail. He has been in judicial custody since 1963. His file shows that his conviction under Section 302 of the IPC was set aside by the High Court on April 30, 1968 before his admission to a mental hospital and has wrongly been treated as a prisoner all these years.

Rehman is now 70 years and he has been in the hospital for 35 years even after gaining fitness for discharge.

Anil Kumar Burman was admitted in December 1972 at the age of 16 from Dhubri Jail.

The sole female undertrial in the Institute, Parbati Mallik of P.S. Silchar, Cachar district was admitted in May 1977 when she was 21 years old.

She has been an undertrial prisoner for 32 years, found sometime fit and sometime unfit for defending herself.

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