The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said mentally-challenged persons should not be treated as lesser human beings,and the bureaucracy cannot be allowed to have its way with social welfare projects.
Adjudicating a PIL over construction of half-way homes for mentally-challenged persons in the city,a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri said: These persons are equal human beings and they must be treated on a par with others. We will do and make the government authorities do whatever is best for their interests. We will not let them be thrown out on the streets,but instead ensure that they get proper care and treatment.
The court made these observations after Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury,who runs a shelter for mentally-challenged persons in Kabir Basti,North Delhi,under the banner of Sudinalay,complained against the non-cooperative attitude of social welfare officials. Chaudhury said she would rather shut down the home and hand over the inmates to the authorities.
In response,the bench said the court would ensure that the inmates are taken care of. Hold on to your patience. We will ensure that all the inmates are treated like human beings,and the bureaucracy does not have its way with projects of social welfare, the bench said.
Earlier,an inspection report of the centre was submitted in court by the Social Welfare department. Highly critical of the shelters functioning,the report said: Sudhinalaya is barely managing a shelter place for destitute and mentally-ill men and women. The services given to inmates,and the documentation,are below satisfaction… The inmates are living in a pathetic condition,without any recreational,counselling and rehabilitation facilities.
The court,however,said that it would go through Chaudharys response to make sure that the adverse report was not part of the bureaucracys plan to settle scores with her.
During the hearing,the court was also informed by the state-run Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) about plans to construct five half-way homes to provide social integration and rehabilitation facilities to mentally-challenged patients.
The court,however,expressed displeasure over the laxity of the DDA in responding to a query over relocating a power sub-station from one of the areas allotted for construction of half-way homes. If no response is received in this regard by the next date of hearing,its vice-chairman shall have to personally present himself in court,it added.
The court will take up the matter on March 14.