On February 17, the Delhi High Court asked Delhi state government to inform it about the reasons behind the death of 11 patients at a home for mentally retarded in a span of two months and the steps they have taken in the matter so far.
The query came as a response to a social worker’s petition that shows that the state run facility, named “Asha Kiran’ is anything but a ray of hope for the mentally challenged inmates housed there.
It also sought an investigation into the reasons for the alleged disappearance of around 250 inmates between 2001-2016, The petitioner, Salek Chand Jain, said in his plea that the Delhi Commission for Women, during its surprise visit at the Asha Kiran facility , had even found women inmates walking about naked in the corridors.
“What steps have been taken in relation to the issue pointed in the writ petition,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra said, asking the counsel for the Delhi government to inform it about the reasons behind such incidents, including the disappearance of about 250 inmates from there since 2001.
This points to a shameful neglect of the affairs of the home by the successive Delhi governments for over a decade and a half!
“We would like to see,” the bench said and asked the government and the concerned authorities to file a status report before April 19.
The court’s direction came on a plea seeking a direction to the AAP government to disclose the reasons for the death.
The public interest litigation (PIL) also urged the court to order registration of FIRs against the erring officials on the basis of the post-mortem reports of the bodies.
The matter came to light after a surprise inspection earlier this month by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) which found the inhabitants living in extremely inhumane and unhygienic conditions.
The DCW had also said it had found that 11 patients had died in the facility in the last two months.
The PIL sought a direction to Delhi government’s Social Welfare Department, which runs the home for persons with mental disabilities.
It also sought an investigation into the reasons for the alleged disappearance of around 250 inmates between 2001-2016, Petitioner Salek Chand Jain said in his plea that the DCW, during its surprise visit at the Asha Kiran, had even found women inmates walking about naked in the corridors.
The inspection was conducted by DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal on the night of February 4 2017.
DCW has issued a notice to the social welfare department secretary and set up a separate inquiry committee to look into the complaints against the home.
Highlighting severely unsanitary conditions and overcrowding at the home, the petitioner in his plea said the court should take steps to stop such incidents, including its inmates going missing and not being traced till date.