The Delhi High Court Friday ordered that the Indian Air Force (IAF) allow one of its non-commissioned officers, who it had allegedly confined to a mental ward for 77 days, to go home with his father. Kriyad Yogesh Bhankhariya (30) reportedlady h alcohol dependency and mental issues for which he was initially treated in the psychiatric ward of the Army Base Hospital. In June, he was shifted to the medical centre at Tughlakabad Air Force Station.
His father Yogesh Kumar (54), through counsel Md Azam Ansari, claimed Kriyad, a corporal, was illegally and forcibly confined at the psychiatric ward without his consent and prior intimation. The father also told the court that his son stopped drinking heavily in 2008, and was only a social drinker.
The IAF, represented by the Centre’s standing counsel Ripudaman Bhardwaj, claimed that the decision was taken for Kriyad’s well-being. The IAF’s counsel also contended that the man should give an undertaking that he will not drink and create ruckus during duty hours.
Responding to the IAF’s stand, a bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel said, “It is a great danger and the person may lose his life if kept beyond the mandatory time limit for any treatment, which is 28 days in the present case.”
“It cannot be a casual approach in this kind of treatment,” it said, adding that “the man has already undergone treatment and it seems, after talking to him, that he is fine”.
“Let him go home straight with his father,” the bench said, telling Kriyad that “we expect that you do not let us down in any manner and join your duty”.
It also directed authorities and the IAF that the man be allowed to visit the doctor on appointment before July 17.
Speaking to The Indian Express later, Yogesh said he had spent many sleepless nights in his son’s absence, and that he is “fine” now. He also alleged Kriyad was force-fed medication.
The court also said the newly enacted Mental Healthcare Act, which came into force on July 2018, made it clear that a person could not be forced to undergo treatment without his consent, adding that the IAF “cannot ignore the laws of the country”.
Terming the conduct of the IAF “irresponsible”, the bench wondered how many such cases were yet to be highlighted. “This practice should be stopped immediately and the Mental Healthcare Act should be applied to all its (IAF’s) centres,” said the bench.
It also asked the IAF for Kriyad’s treatment record, and a report on the protocol for dealing with issues of stress and substance abuse in the force, on the next date of hearing, August 17.