Trial courts in Delhi have been directed to decide within three months the pleas relating to mentally challenged persons. The administrative direction by the district judge (headquarters) came in pursuance to the Delhi High Court’s order in February this year expressing unhappiness with a trial court for not giving an expeditious hearing to a man’s petition seeking permission to sell off property of his mentally challenged brother.
“Pursuant to the directions of Delhi High Court… and in terms of Section 77 of Mental Health Act, 1987, it is ordered that inquiry under the Mental Health Act, 1987, be completed ordinarily within 90 days and in the event of unavoidable circumstances, within six months,” District Judge (headquarters) Talwant Singh said.
The high court had passed the order on the man’s plea challenging the trial court April 28, 2015 order by which his petition was dismissed on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction as well as on merits. It had said the man’s plea warranted expeditious hearing considering that he had no means for sustenance of his younger brother, who was mentally challenged, but the record showed that trial court had proceeded with the matter as a regular trial and the proceedings remained pending from January, 2013 to April, 2015.
It had said that proceedings under the Mental Health Act, 1987 were in the nature of an inquiry and expeditious hearing was warranted. It had said it was of the view that the inquiry under the Act should be completed ordinarily within 90 days and in unavoidable circumstances, within six months.
“It would, therefore, be appropriate for the principal district judge to frame the regulations to prescribe the procedure for conducting the inquiry within a fixed time frame under Section 77 of Mental Health Act, 1987,” it had said. The high court had also directed the principal district judge to ascertain the number of cases pending under Mental Health Act and file the data before it. It had asked the district judge to circulate its order to other courts dealing with the cases under the Act.
The man had said that he was appointed guardian of his ill brother and was taking care of him from the income of agricultural land which was not sufficient as his maintenance expenses were increasing. He had said that his brother suffered from 75 per cent mental retardation and placed the disability certificate issued by the medical board of Safdarjang Hospital.
The man had sought permission to sell the agricultural land which was in his brother’s share, which was necessary under the Mental Health Act. As per section 59 of the Act, any person managing the property of the mentally ill person to seek permission of the District Court before selling off, mortgaging or transferring or leasing out the property of such person.