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Thursday, December 15, 2016

pitiable and pathetic condition of Asha Kiran Home (the sole Delhi Government run Home) for differently abled men, women and children. Asha Kiran Home comprises of six institutions within a complex of four buildings for mentally retarded children and adults. The appellants highlighted the issues such as inadequate medical treatment, medical services and access to Doctors, skewed ratio of staff to look after the inmates, overcrowding, poor distribution and consumption of dietary, clothing, bedding and other items and also about the abuses of various kinds to the mentally challenged persons residing in the said Home, in particular the female residents. The appellants essentially relied on the media reports to buttress their plea about the pathetic condition and the cruel treatment meted out at the hands of staff members in Asha Kiran.

                                                                REPORTABLE



IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.11938/2016
                 (Arising out of S.L.P.(Civil) No.39321/2012)

Reena Banerjee & Anr.                              ….Appellants

                 Vs.

Govt. of NCT of  Delhi & Ors.
….Respondents



                             J U D G M E N T



A.M.KHANWILKAR,J.



      Leave granted.

2.    This appeal arises from the judgment of the High  Court  of  Delhi  at
New Delhi in W.P.(c) No.8229/2011 dated 7th September 2012.

3.    The appellants filed an intervention application in  the  High  Court,
in a disposed  of suo  moto  Writ Petition   (Civil)  No.  5621/2012.    The
reliefs claimed in the application read thus:

“ a.  For an order calling for the records of the deaths  that   have  taken
place in such homes and also for information pertaining  to  the  intake  of
juveniles and those released since 2004-08.

b.    For an  order  directing  the  authorities  to  conduct  an  impartial
inquiry by constituting an independent committee as per  the  provisions  of
the Acts regarding the deaths that have taken  place  in  observation  homes
and submitting findings to this Hon’ble Court.

c.    For an order directing strong action against  the  duty  bearers,  the
concerned minister and the agencies working in the area of child rights  who
have failed to discharge their duties towards  the  children  and  prosecute
the officials who are responsible for the deaths in various children  homes.


d.    For an order issuing directions  to  the  authorities  to  ensure  all
necessary infrastructure and legal entitlements are provided  in  the  homes
under the  Juvenile  Justice  regarding  the  requirements  for  appropriate
staffing, food, medical care and hygiene.

   e. For an order directing the Respondents to ward   compensation  to  the
parents/guardians of those juveniles  who  have  died  in  various  Children
Homes due to lapse or negligence of Home Authorities.

    f.  For  an  order  constituting  permanent  committee   consisting   of
representatives of persons working on child rights  and  institutional  care
to supervise and monitor the  functioning  of  the  child-care  institutions
within juvenile justice administration system and to make periodic reports.

    g.      For an order requiring the Delhi Commission  for  Protection  of
Child Rights to produce all inquiry reports and  findings  with  respect  to
Asha Kiran.





     h.       For  an  order  directing  the  C.B.I.  to   take   over   the
investigation and prosecution with respect to the allegations as set out  in
this petition.

i.    Pass such other order or orders as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit  in
the facts and circumstances of the case.”



4.    This intervention application, however, was directed  to  be  delinked
from the disposed of suo moto Writ Petition and to be registered as a  fresh
Writ Petition. Accordingly, the application was  registered  as  W.P.(Civil)
No.8229/2011.  The principal issue argued before the High Court   was  about
the pitiable and pathetic condition of  Asha  Kiran  Home  (the  sole  Delhi
Government run Home) for differently abled men,  women  and  children.  Asha
Kiran Home comprises of six institutions within a complex of four  buildings
for mentally retarded children and adults. The  appellants  highlighted  the
issues such as inadequate medical treatment, medical services and access  to
Doctors, skewed ratio of staff to  look  after  the  inmates,  overcrowding,
poor distribution and consumption of dietary, clothing,  bedding  and  other
items and also about the abuses of various kinds to the mentally  challenged
persons residing in the said Home, in particular the female  residents.  The
appellants essentially relied on the media reports to  buttress  their  plea
about the pathetic condition and the cruel treatment meted out at the  hands
of staff members in Asha Kiran. When the matter progressed before  the  High
Court, the management of Asha  Kiran  agreed  to  consider  the  suggestions
given by the appellants and also to chalk out  a  holistic  action  plea  to
remedy  the  deficiencies.  They  said  that  they  were  not  treating  the
proceedings  as  an  adversarial  litigation.  The  High  Court,  therefore,
directed the parties to convene a joint meeting and submit a proposal  about
the reforms required in  Asha  Kiran,  if  any.  The  Government  of  Delhi,
accordingly, submitted a report about the action already taken and  proposed
to be taken thereat. The High Court in the  impugned  decision  adverted  to
the contents of the said report, which reads thus:

“6. Mr. S.D. Salwan, learned Standing Counsel appearing  for  the  Govt.  of
NCT of Delhi, has placed on record the Report on  action  taken/proposed  to
be taken, which are as under:

The  existing  Administrator  has  been  phased  out  and  the  process   of
appointment of a new Administrator has been initiated.   The  Government  is
appointing Dr. V.N. Agarwal, former Medical  Superintendent  of  Dr.Ambedkar
Hospital.  He is MBBS, M.B.B.A, M.B.A, Health Care Administration from  FMS,
Delhi University  and  has  done  a  post  graduate  Certificate  course  in
Hospital Administration.  Dr. Agarwal, himself being a  medical  doctor  and
having held  administrative  position  of  one  of  the  largest  Government
hospitals would be totally competent to work  on  improvement  of  essential
services, plight of inmates, and maintenance of infrastructure  and  day  to
day administrative work of  Asha  Kiran  Home.   The  Administrator  with  a
background of a  medico  shall  be  dedicated  to  reduce  vulnerability  of
inmates; prevention of untimely deaths; and running of an effective  medical
team at the institution and organize value added medical services  from  the
competent government hospitals.  One of the key purpose is to reduce  deaths
and increase life span of the existing inmates of Asha Kiran.



The  Government  has  approved  formation  of  a  strong  Governing  Council
comprising of eminent  citizens  and  experts  (with  core  competencies  in
techniques of holistic shelter and rehabilitation, gender, Human Rights  and
Socio-Economic Empowerment  of  the  most  marginalized  sections)  for  the
holistic and  integrated  development  and  improvement  of  management  and
monitoring of the Asha Kiran institution, as well as prompt and  expeditious
implementation of all policies and recommendations of  Government  appointed
Committee and various other statutory institutions,  such  as  NHRC,  NCPCR,
DCPCR etc.  The process of setting up of the  said  Governing  Council  will
take at least 2 weeks.



Ms. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, a prominent rehabilitation  social  worker;  a
Member, Central Social Welfare Board; Chairperson, Committee for  Review  of
National Policy for Empowerment of Women; Chairperson, Institute for  Gender
Justice, Ex-National Advisor, National Legal Services Authority;  Ex-Member,
Delhi  Legal  Services  Authority;   Ex-Chief   Coordinator,   Rape   Crisis
Intervention Centre of Delhi Police, Founder of Sudinalay Shelter Homes  for
Homeless  and  Destitute  Citizens  Living  with  Mental  Disabilities   and
HIV/AIDS is being  nominated  as  the  Chairperson  of  the  said  Governing
Council.  She is a senior and respected representative of the civil  society
who has dedicated her life  for  the  rescue,  rehabilitation,  shelter  and
welfare of homeless citizens, particularly,   living  with  acute  forms  of
mental disabilities.  While  selecting  the  Chairperson  of  the  Governing
Council, adequate care  has  been  taken  to  choose  a  person  of  subject
knowledge,  integrity,  dedication,  commitment  and  selfless  humanitarian
approach whose exposure of work has ranged from Civil Society to  State  and
Central Government in  various  acclaimed  capacity.   The  person  who  has
direct, hands-on  experience  of   rescue,  shelter  and  rehabilitation  of
abandoned/most marginalised,  poorest  of  the  poor  sections  of  citizens
living with various forms of mental disabilities as well as vast  experience
of formulation of policy initiatives  at  the  highest  level.   In  several
related matters, the Hon’ble Supreme Court and High  Courts  have  appointed
her as advisor and member of monitoring  committees,  technical  committees,
steering committees and empowered committees to monitor government  policies
and programs.



The Governing  Council  will  be  fully  empowered  to  take  decisions  for
improvement of the Asha Kiran Home in every manner  and  taking  all  issues
pertaining to the welfare and upkeep of residents; their protection  against
any forms of assault/or any coercion while they  are  at  this  home,  their
health, habitat, education, living conditions, medical  care  and  treatment
and personal grooming and hygiene will be given maximum consideration.



The Governing Council under the Chairperson, will take utmost  care  to  de-
congest the home; to rehabilitate and restore the  residents to their  homes
of families, or create opportunities of foster  care  and  mainstreaming  in
the society or communities;  will  uphold  the  national  and  international
policies and UN covenants pertaining the status of persons living  with  all
forms of mental disabilities; to nurture the environment of love,  care  and
affection for this section; and to re-affirm the  concepts  of  dignity  and
human rights; to initiate  all  such  measures  which  will  ameliorate  the
existing pain and congestion; the typical sense alienation and the  symptoms
of marginalization; the said Governing Council will gather  fresh  energies,
resources and friends and volunteers from  the  civil  society  and  try  to
amalgamate all those to achieve a  vision  of  an  integrated  and  holistic
rehabilitation shelter home for the most needy and  marginalized.   It  will
also initiate  policy  level  dialogues  and  interdepartmental  cooperation
modules to converge benefits of  various  schemes  of  government  and  non-
governmental organizations; re-write the policy documents,  rule  books  and
manuals to cope up with the challenges of a modern  and  contemporary  world
class institution.  Efforts will be made  to  prepare  individual  care  and
support sheet with micro level interventions, to acquire  dignity  for  each
one of the resident.  The Governing  Council  will  review  the  Budget  and
analyze the  present-day  requirements  and  accordingly  place  before  the
government for the  rationalization.   It  will  explore  setting  up  of  a
Resident  Welfare  Fund  to  augment  and  take  care  of   the   employment
opportunities for the residents.



The Governing Council shall be a  decision-making  body  and  its  decisions
shall  be  considered  the  ultimate  and  binding  by  the  government  for
improvement of the essential services as well as the plight of the  inmates.
  The  Chairperson  shall   be   competent   to   direct/guide/control   the
implementation of policies and proposals and shall be a face and a voice  of
the   so   far   neglected   institution.    The   Administrator   and   the
Superintendents shall be responsible to assist  the  Governing  Council  and
the Chairperson to spearhead the proposed developmental activities.



The Government has approved proposed development of  a  Terms  of  Reference
for the functioning of the Governing Council, which shall  be  read  with  a
mandate and a vision document.



The department had already proposed appointment  of  94  House  Aunties  and
appointments shall be made at the earliest.  After the appointments,  proper
training will be imparted through the Panel of  Experts  whereby  the  newly
inducted House Aunties shall be sensitized on issues pertaining  to  health,
hygiene and medical care.  The Governing Council will promptly act to  train
the  staff  members  with  the  help  of  existing  governmental  and   non-
governmental training institutions.  Special  attention  will  be  given  to
integrate the voluntary groups in training programs.



The government has already commissioned the activity of  a  new  Asha  Kiran
Building and the DSIIDC empanelled  Architect,   Mr.  Prabhat,  involved  in
Half  Way  Home  construction  have  been  taken  on  board  to  assist   in
formulation  of  a  scientific  construction   plan,   with   national   and
international rehabilitative  standards.   With  regard  to  infrastructural
development, it is proposed to shift 100 residents to a new  location,  i.e.
Nirmal Chaya.  The complex of  Asha  Kiran  will  undergo  radical  changes.
Four new multistory cottages, having 3 floors, will  be  constructed.   Each
cottage will house 100 residents thereby catering  to  400  residents.   Mr.
Prabath, is very well versed and acquainted  with  the  requirement  of  the
residents of Asha Kiran will design the new cottages, in  consultation  with
the Governing Council as well  as  the  government  appointed  committee  to
ensure all necessary inputs are made  available  for  the  benefits  of  the
home.  It would be pertinent to state that earlier sanction has  been  given
to more than 15 times of Civil and other Works.  The  sanctioned  amount  is
about Rs. 5,50,00,000/-.  This would need  further  revision  as  additional
floors are being  added  in  the  four  new  cottages.   Several  rounds  of
presentations and meetings have already taken place in the  last  one  year,
to create an integrated and holistic space for cluster homes and  apartments
for the beneficiaries of Asha Kiran.



The list submitted by Applicants contains names  of  private  psychiatrists.
Since,  Dr.  Nimesh  Desai  (Director,  IHBAS,  the   statutory   regulatory
institution for all forms of mental disabilities)  and  Ms.  Sreerupa  Mitra
Chaudhury ( a mental health activist and expert) are  already  part  of  the
Government  appointed  committee,  some  more  psychiatrists  on  board,  is
unnecessary inclusion.



The women and child health specialists from nearby Government hospitals  are
visiting the institution on regular basis; therefore, adding names  of  some
more is not required.



The government  has  instructed  the  Governing  Council  to  constitute  an
Advisory  Expert  Group  Panel  for  regular  advice,  academic  assistance,
technical and knowledge support  and  for  creation  of  voluntary  training
opportunities at the institution and to make them part of a new action  plan
that shall be formulated soon by the Governing Council.  The matter will  be
referred to the Advisory panel of experts,  which  would  also  include  the
first four persons suggested by the petitioners, viz.  Ms.  Radhika  Alkazi,
Merry Barua, G. Shyamala and Shanti Aulak.  The Advisory  panel  of  experts
will provide technical  advice  and  shall  be  knowledge  partners  of  the
Governing Council.  The Governing Council shall be authorized to  expand  or
empanel more and more experts of proven expertise  from  various  fields  to
add value.



Segregation of border line and mild cases from moderate severe and  profound
category cases shall be done on  war  footing.   Efforts  will  be  made  to
absorb the Border and Mild category cases in  the  main  stream  by  sending
them to regular schools, NGO Institutions and incase of  adults,  they  will
be employed as ‘peer mentor’ to work upon the other residents.  Remuneration
would be given to such “peer mentors” at par with the policy under NREGA  or
any such scheme.  Bank accounts of such mild to moderate residents  will  be
opened wherein their salary shall be deposited, for their use and benefit.



The  Government  is  strengthening  staff  members  by   providing   special
training, workshops and sensitizing them with all issues pertaining  to  the
different categories of residents (4 categories).



The Government will prepare a  curriculum  or  co-opt  an  already  existing
curriculum to train the House Aunties and Staff of Asha Kiran and for  this,
the Advisory Panel’s advise and technical input, in-house training and  also
developing administrative acumen shall  be  taken.  With  is  exercise,  the
house aunties as well as the  other  staff  will  get  sensitized  to  every
aspect of care to be provided to the  residents.  The  advisory  Panel  will
develop  the  curriculum/content  for  the  technical  course  proposed  for
professional qualification of all house aunties  and  other  staff  of  Asha
Kiran  home.   The  ‘Sahyogi’   program  of  the  National  Trust,  suitably
modified by the Advisory Panel, will be implemented for the new as  well  as
existing house aunties.



The department is contemplating a revised salary  structure  with  guarantee
of minimum wages to the personnels employed at Asha Kiran  the  unpaid  dues
of the Staff shall be settled within 4-6 weeks.



The neighbouring government hospitals are being attached to Asha  KIran  for
providing ongoing medical care in case  the  medical  care  centre  situated
within the complex  is  unable  to  cater  to  the  ailment.   The  team  of
psychiatrists, pediatricians,  gynecologists  and  general  physicians  from
these hospitals will pay regular and routine duties  for  the  care  of  the
residents. The entire health record will be digitalized for  easy  reference
in case of any emergency.



The  Department  is  contemplating  engagement  of  special  educators   for
occasional training and consultation.



With regard to inspection/supervision, an inspection  committee  constituted
under the Section 35 of the J.J.Act as  well  as  the  committee  under  the
DCPCR and NCPCR are at liberty to  perform  the  statutory  obligations  and
their reports shall be taken by the department of social welfare as well  as
the staff of Asha Kiran in the right direction.    The Government  has  also
requested the Govt. appointed Committee and will  call  upon  the  Governing
Council to undertake/conduct surprise  visits  to  the  institution  on  odd
hours and record the activities and statements of inmates.



For proper surveillance  and  prevention  of  any  untoward  incident,  CCTV
system is being   installed at important places.



26 new toilets are under construction in the home and  they  shall  be  made
functional by 30.08.2012.  The requirement of  the  additional  toilets  was
considered by the department in June-July 2011 and the same have  been  duly
implemented.    In so  far  as  renovation  of  existing  infrastructure  is
concerned, including toilets, the process was  initiated  in  December  2010
and an amount of Rs. 2.50 crores has been spent.



The government is contemplating to make Asha Kiran Home an  autonomous  body
with  a  highly  effective  Governing  Council.   The  appointment  of   the
governing council at this stage by the government with  Ms.  Sreerupa  Mitra
Chaudhury as the Chairperson is a step in the right direction.



The chairperson, backed by the Governing Council  and  the  Advisory  Groups
shall take decisions related to amendments in policy  of  admission  of  new
cases; and re-location of the existing or new residents depending  on  their
merit,  criterion,  requirements  etc.;  as   well   as   restoration,   re-
integration, mainstreaming and rehabilitation.  A policy will  be  developed
to assist the homeless, people of the street and the  poorest  of  the  poor
who have no income.  Consultative meetings and inter-departmental  dialogues
shall be held to make space for the poor and the  most  deserving.   Maximum
focus will be laid  on  the  access  to  the  most  marginalized.   In  this
connection, fresh intake modalities and rule books shall be amended.”



5.    After adverting to the commitment made by the State Government in  the
aforesaid report, the High Court opined that the proposed action would go  a
long way in improving the condition of Asha Kiran Home. On that  basis,  the
High Court disposed of the matter by expressing a hope that the  Authorities
concerned will implement the proposed action within assured time  frame.  As
regards the suggestions given by the appellants in respect of  the  proposed
action, the  High  Court  clarified  that  the  Government  Authorities  may
consider the same.

6.    The appellants, however, have approached this Court by way of  present
appeal under Article  136  of  the  Constitution  of  India.  The  principal
grievance of the appellants is  that  the  High  Court  ought  not  to  have
mechanically accepted the suggestions  given  by  the  State  Government  in
toto; and more particularly because  the  past  experience  shows  that  the
Authorities had never fulfilled  their  commitments  made  before  the  High
Court in previous Writ Petitions. Further, there was  an  imminent  need  to
drastically improve the condition of  Asha  Kiran  for  mentally  challenged
persons, keeping in mind the suggestions given by the appellants before  the
High Court. The High Court ought to have examined the suggestions  presented
in writing by the appellants. Besides the appellants, by  way  of  rejoinder
affidavit filed in this Court, have disputed the correctness of the  factual
position about the condition of Asha Kiran Home.

7.    The respondents 1 to 7 (State  Government)  have  filed  affidavit  in
this Court on 19th April, 2014, disclosing  the  factual  information  about
the action taken in furtherance of the proposal submitted to the Delhi  High
Court and assured to take measures  to  provide  better  facilities  to  the
inmates   and   of  improving  the  condition  of  Asha  Kiran   Home.   The
respondents 1 to 7 then filed additional affidavit  sworn  in  August  2015,
giving information about the action taken for improving  the  conditions  in
Asha Kiran Home and also having provided better facilities to  the  inmates.
The said affidavit also explains the aspects noted in the  report  submitted
by the Senior Advocate on 26th August 2015, regarding the present status  in
Asha Kiran Home for mentally challenged persons. The  additional  affidavit,
inter alia highlights the extent of  improvisation  of  infrastructure,  the
living conditions of the inmates in the Home including about the  programmes
undertaken for providing social security to the inmates. It is  stated  that
the  new  activities  introduced  by  the  Management  have   expanded   the
opportunities and exposure to the inmates in  relation  to  new  trades  and
training programmes. The affidavit also deals with the issues noted by  this
Court in its order  dated  10th  February  2015  and  26th  March  2015,  in
particular. The thrust of the latest affidavit of the  respondents  is  that
the living conditions of the inmates in the Home has  considerably  improved
including of providing new facilities and opportunities to them.  Similarly,
the medical care and health structure as  well  as  exposure  to  games  and
sports has been strengthened. It is stated that  the  activities  undertaken
by the Home under the guidance and supervision of the Governing Council  has
been acclaimed even by the media.  Further more,  Asha Kiran has become  the
first Government Institution in the welfare sector in Delhi, to  be  awarded
ISO  9001:  2008  for  Quality  Management  in  September  2014.   The   new
initiatives taken by the Governing Council have been appreciated by one  and
all. Significantly, the factual position stated in this  affidavit  has  not
been countered.

8.    Considering the factual position  stated  in  this  latest  additional
affidavit and which has not been  controverted,  it  must  follow  that  the
issues agitated by the appellants before the  Delhi  High  Court  have  been
substantially redressed. In case there is still  any  subsisting  deficiency
or shortcoming or a possibility of further improvisation, it is always  open
to the appellants to give their suggestions to the Governing  Council.   The
appellants are  free to do  so.   There  is  no  reason  why  the  Governing
Council will not consider those suggestions and act upon the same  in  right
earnest, if the same are reasonable and achievable. This  proceeding  should
come to an end on this note.

9.    However, this Court vide order dated  26th  March  2015  had  observed
that the pitiable condition as obtained in Asha Kiran, in relation to  which
the matter had travelled to the Delhi High Court may be true in  respect  of
Homes in other parts of the country. The Court, therefore, issued notice  to
all the State Governments and Union Territories and directed  them  to  file
their response about the  ground  reality  prevailing  in  their  respective
State with particular reference to the State obligations enunciated  in  The
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,  Protection  of  Rights  and
Full Participation) Act, 1995 (hereinafter referred to as the 1995 Act).  In
response to the notice, in all 18 affidavits have been  filed  by  different
States/Union Territories giving particulars about  the  prevailing  position
in their respective State/Union Territory.

10.   Having given our anxious consideration to those affidavits, we are  of
the view that analyzing the affidavit of each  State/Union  Territory  would
be a cumbersome exercise, if not entail in entering upon a  roving  enquiry.
Be that as it may, we are of the view that  a  comprehensive  mechanism  and
dispensation is predicated in the 1995 Act and the Rules framed  thereunder.
Besides the  1995  Act,  even  the  Mental  Health  Act,  1987  (hereinafter
referred to as  the  1987  Act)  postulates  a  dispensation  mandating  the
appropriate Government to establish institutions for the  care  of  mentally
challenged persons and  maintenance and management thereof with  a  view  to
create an equal opportunity and  social  security  to  them.  For  that,  an
organizational structure has been provided for the  Central  Government  and
Union Territories on the one hand and the respective  State  Governments  on
the other. The Authorities so created have  been fastened  with  a  duty  to
ensure that the Homes are maintained properly; and the inmates  as  well  as
outdoor patients  are  looked  after  properly  and  also  to  create  equal
opportunity and social security in the matter of  education  and  employment
of such persons. To wit, Section  3  of  the  1995  Act  mandates  that  the
Central  Government  shall  constitute  a  body  to  be  known  as   Central
Coordination Committee to  exercise  the  powers  conferred  on  it  and  to
perform the functions assigned to it under the Act.  The  functions  of  the
said Committee are delineated in Section  8  of  the  Act,  which  not  only
require it to develop a national policy to  address  issues  faced  by   the
persons with disabilities but also to review and coordinate  the  activities
of all the  Departments  of  Government  and  other  Governmental  and  non-
Governmental Organisations  which  are  dealing  with  matters  relating  to
persons with disabilities.   The  Central  Coordination  Committee  is  made
responsible to oversee and monitor the functioning of the Central  Executive
Committee constituted by the Central  Government  under  Section  9  and  to
perform the functions assigned to it under  the  Act.  On  similar  pattern,
under Chapter III, the State Coordination Committee is  constituted  by  the
State Government to exercise the powers conferred on it and to  perform  the
functions assigned  to  it  under  the  Act.  The  functions  of  the  State
Coordination Committee are more or less identical to the  functions  of  the
Central Coordination Committee which, however  is  confined  to  review  and
monitoring the situation within the State. Section 19 of  the  Act  mandates
that the State Government shall constitute a committee to be  known  as  the
State Executive Committee to perform the functions assigned to it under  the
Act. The functions of the State Executive Committee are similar to  that  of
the Central Executive Committee but operate only within that  State  and  in
respect of Homes established by the State Government  or  permitted  by  the
State Government for the  benefit  of  persons  with  disabilities.  Besides
creating the vertical organizational  structure  at  the  Centre  and  State
level respectively, the 1995  Act  also  delineates  the  functions  of  the
respective Authority. As regards the Apex Coordination Committee - be it  at
the Central or State level - the Committee  is  expected  to  serve  as  the
focal point on disability matters and facilitate the  continuous  evaluation
of a comprehensive policy towards solving  the  problems  faced  by  persons
with disabilities. Besides this general obligation, the  specific  functions
of the Central Coordination Committee are as follows:

      “8. Functions of the Central Co-ordination Committee:-

  (1) . . . . . . . . . . .  .

  (2)  In  particular  and  without  prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
foregoing, the Central Co-ordination Committee may perform  all  or  any  of
the following functions, namely:-

(a)  review  and  coordinate  the  activities  of  all  the  Departments  of
Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental  Organizations  which
are dealing with matters relating to persons with disabilities;

(b) develop a national policy  to  address  issues  faced  by  persons  with
disabilities;

(c)  advise  the  Central  Government  on  the  formulation   of   policies,
programmes, legislation and projects with respect to disability;

(d) take up the cause  of  persons  with  disabilities  with  the  concerned
authorities and the international organizations with a view to  provide  for
schemes and projects for the  disabled  in  the  national  plans  and  other
programmers and policies evolved by the international agencies;

(e) review in consultation with the donor agencies  their  funding  policies
from the perspective of their impact on persons with disabilities;

(f) take such other steps ensure barrier-free environment in public  places,
work-places, public utilities, schools and other institutions;

(g) monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed  for
achieving equality and full participation of persons with disabilities;

(h) to perform such other functions as may  be  prescribed  by  the  Central
Government.”



11.   The functions of the State Coordination Committee are  also  to  serve
as the State focal  point  on  disability  matters  and  to  facilitate  the
continuous  evaluation  of  a  comprehensive  policy  towards  solving   the
problems  faced  by  persons  with  disabilities.   Besides   this   general
obligation, the State Coordination Committee is expected  to  discharge  the
following functions :

“18. Functions of the State Co-ordination Committee –

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of  the  foregoing
function the State Co-ordination Committee may,  within  the  State  perform
all or any of the following functions, namely:-

 (a) review  and  coordinate  the  activities  of  all  the  Departments  of
Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental  Organizations  which
are dealing with matters relating to persons with disabilities;

(b) develop  a  State  policy  to  address  issues  faced  by  persons  with
disabilities;

(c) advise the State Government on the formulation of policies,  programmes,
legislation and projects with respect to disability;

(d) review in consultation with the donor agencies, their  funding  policies
from the perspective of their impact on persons with disabilities;

 (e) take such other steps to  ensure  barrier-free  environment  in  public
places, work places, public utilities,  schools and other institutions;

(f) monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed  for
achieving equality and full participation of persons with disabilities;

(g) to perform such other functions  as  may  be  prescribed  by  the  State
Government.”



12.   The functions of the Central Executive Committee in terms  of  Section
10 of 1995 Act, is to carry out the decisions of  the  Central  Coordination
Committee as its Executive Body; and also to perform  such  other  functions
as may be delegated to it by the Central Coordination Committee. Section  12
of the Act enables the Central Executive Committee to associate with  itself
any person in such manner for such purposes as  may  be  prescribed  by  the
Central Government, whose assistance or advice it may desire  to  obtain  in
performing any of its functions under the Act. A person associated with  the
Central Executive Committee shall  have  the  right  to  take  part  in  the
discussions of the Central Executive Committee  relevant  to  that  purpose,
but shall not have a right to vote at a meeting of the said  committee,  and
shall not be a  member  for  any  other  purpose.  Similar  dispensation  is
predicated in respect of State Executive Committee, which  has  to  function
as  the  Executive  Body  of  the  State  Coordination  Committee   and   is
responsible to carry out the decisions of the State  Coordination  Committee
and to perform such other functions as may be delegated to it by  the  State
Coordination Committee.  Even the State Executive  Committee  can  associate
any person whose assistance or advice may be required in performing  any  of
the functions of the State Executive Committee, in terms of  Section  22  of
the 1995 Act.

13.    Besides  the  dispensation  provided  in  the  1995   Act   for   the
implementation of the avowed objectives of the said Act, we  find  that  the
1987 Act also provides for  a  comprehensive  dispensation  to  fulfill  the
objectives of that Act. Under the latter  Act,  the  Central  Authority  for
Mental Health Services is established by  the  Central  Government  and  the
State Authority for Mental Health Services is established by  the  concerned
State Government. The expression “Mental Health Services” has  been  defined
in the Explanation  to  Section  3  of  1987  Act.  The  functions  of  this
Authority have been delineated in Sub-section (3) of Section 3  of  the  Act
reads thus:-

“ 3. Central Authority For Mental Health Services. –

(1)………………………………………..

(2)………………………………………..

(3) The Authority established under sub-section (1) shall –

(a) be in charge of regulation,  development,  direction  and  co-ordination
with respect to Mental Health Services under the Central Government and  all
other matters which,  under  this  Act,  are  the  concern  of  the  Central
Government  or  any  officer  or  authority  subordinate  to   the   Central
Government.

(b) supervise the psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric  nursing  homes  and
other Mental Health Service Agencies (including  places  in  which  mentally
ill persons may be kept or  detained)  under  the  control  of  the  Central
Government;

(c) advise the Central Government on all matters relating to mental  health;
and

(d) discharge such other functions  with  respect  to  matters  relating  to
mental health as the Central Government may require.

Explanation.- For the purposes  of  this  section  and  section  4,  "Mental
Health  Services"  include,  in  addition  to  psychiatric   hospitals   and
psychiatric nursing homes, observation wards, day-care centers,  in  patient
treatment in general hospitals, ambulatory treatment  facilities  and  other
facilities,  convalescent  homes  and  half-way-homes   for   mentally   ill
persons.”



As regards the State Authority, Section 4 of the 1987 Act reads thus:

“4. State Authority For Mental Health Services. –

(1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(2)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

(3) The Authority established under sub-section (1) shall -

(a) be in charge of regulation, development and co-ordination  with  respect
to Mental Health Services under the State Government and all  other  matters
which, under this Act, the concern of the state Government  or  any  officer
or authority subordinate to the State Government;

(b) supervise the psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric  nursing  homes  and
other Mental health Service Agencies (including  places  in  which  mentally
ill persons may  be  kept  or  detained  under  the  control  of  the  State
Government :

(c) advise the State Government on all matters relating to mental  health  ;
and

 (d) discharge such other functions with  respect  to  matters  relating  to
mental health as the State Government may require.”



14.   Section 5 of the 1987 Act obligates  the  Central  Government  or  the
State Government as the case may be, to establish  or  maintain  psychiatric
hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes for  the  admission,  treatment  and
care of mentally ill persons at such places as  it  thinks  fit  within  the
limits of its jurisdiction. Section 5 reads thus:

“5. Establishment or maintenance of psychiatric  hospitals  and  psychiatric
nursing homes. – (1) The Central Government may, in any part  of  India,  or
the  state  government  may,  within  the  limits   of   its   jurisdiction,
established or maintain psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric  nursing  homes
for the admission, treatment and  care  of  mentally  ill  persons  at  such
places as it thinks fit; and separate psychiatric hospitals and  psychiatric
nursing homes may be established or maintained for, -

(a) those who are under the age of sixteen years;

(b) those who  are  addicted  to  alcohol  or  other  drugs  which  lead  to
behavioural changes in a persons ;

(c) those who have been convicted of any offence; and

(d) those belonging to such other class or category of  persons  as  may  be
prescribed .

(2) Where a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home is  established
or maintained by the Central Government, any reference in this  Act  to  the
State Government shall, in relation to such hospital  or  nursing  home,  be
construed as a reference to the Central Government.”



15.   Section 10 of the 1987 Act postulates that every psychiatric  hospital
and psychiatric nursing home shall be maintained in such manner and  subject
to such conditions as may  be  prescribed.  The  manner  and  conditions  of
maintaining psychiatric hospital  and  psychiatric  nursing  home  has  been
spelt out in Rule 20 framed under the said Act. The same reads thus:

“20.  Manner  and  conditions  of  maintaining   psychiatric   hospital   or
psychiatric nursing homes.-  Every  psychiatric  hospital  or  nursing  home
shall be maintained subject to the condition that,-

(A) such hospital or nursing home is located only in  an  area  approved  by
the local authority;

(B) such hospital or nursing home is located in a building constructed  with
the approval of the local authority;

(C) the building, where such hospital  or  nursing  home  is  situated,  has
sufficient  ventilation  and  is  free  from  any  pollution  which  may  be
detrimental to the patients admitted in such hospital or nursing home;

(D) such hospital or  nursing  home  has  enough  beds  to  accommodate  the
patients;

(E) the nurses and other staff employed in such  hospital  or  nursing  home
are duly qualified and competent to handle the work assigned to them;

(F) the supervising officer-in-charge of such hospital or nursing home is  a
person duly qualified having a  post-graduate  qualification  in  psychiatry
recognized by the Medical Council of India.”



16.   Section 13 of the 1987 Act envisages that an Inspecting  Officer  may,
at any time, enter and  inspect  any  psychiatric  hospital  or  psychiatric
nursing home and require the production of any records, which  are  required
to  be  kept  in  accordance  with  the  Rules  made  in  this  behalf,  for
inspection.

17.   Suffice it to observe that the 1995 Act  as  well  as  1987  Act  make
ample provision for not only  establishment  of  Homes  for  the  admission,
treatment and care of mentally ill persons but also  about  the  maintenance
and conditions and facilities to be provided to the inmates, to ensure  that
the Homes are properly equipped and are being run  in  accordance  with  the
statutory scheme. Authorities for monitoring and  supervision  are  also  in
place (Central Coordination Committee at the top of the pyramid  in  so  far
as  Homes  established  by  the  Central  Government  or  permitted  to   be
established by it). Similarly,  for  the  Homes  established  by  the  State
Government or permitted to be established  by  it,  the  State  Coordination
Committee is at the top of  the  pyramid  of  the  organizational  structure
within the State. The provisions in the 1987 or 1995 Act  and  Rules  framed
thereunder, clearly articulate the manner of providing proper conditions  in
Hospitals/Homes established under the concerned enactment and also  for  its
maintenance.

18.   In that, Chapter V of 1987 Act  provides  for  inspection,  discharge,
leave  of  absence  and  removal  of  mentally  ill  persons.  Chapter   VII
stipulates the liability to meet the cost of  maintenance  of  mentally  ill
persons detained  in  psychiatric  hospital  or  psychiatric  nursing  home.
Chapter VIII mandates that mentally ill persons to be treated  with  dignity
and protection of their human rights. Chapter IX of 1987  Act  provides  for
penalties and procedure. Section 82 provides for penalty  for  establishment
or maintenance of  psychiatric  hospital  or  psychiatric  nursing  home  in
contravention of  Chapter  III.  Section  85  is  a  general  provision  for
punishment of other offences. Section 94 is  a  Rule  making  power  of  the
Central Government and State Government. Amongst others, it is open to  make
Rules with regard to the following matters:

“94. Power of Central Government and State Government to make rules. –

(1)   The Central Government may, by notification, make rules providing  for
the qualifications  of  persons  who  may  be  appointed  as  Mental  Health
Authority under section 3 and the terms  and  conditions  subject  to  which
they may be appointed under that section and all other matters  relating  to
such authority.

(2)   Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1),  the  State  Government,
with the previous approval of the Central Government may,  by  notification,
make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act:

Provided that the first rules shall be made by  the  Central  Government  by
notification.

(3) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the  foregoing
power, rules made under sub-section (2) may provide for all or  any  of  the
following maters, namely:-

(a) the qualifications of persons who may  be  appointed  as  Mental  Health
Authority and the  terms  and  conditions  subject  to  which  they  may  be
appointed under section 4 and all other matters relating to such  authority;


(b)  the  class  or  category  of  persons  for  whom  separate  psychiatric
hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes may be  established  and  maintained
under clause (d) of sub-section (1) of section 5;

(c) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .

(d) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(e) . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . .

(f) the minimum facilities referred to in the proviso to sub-section (5)  of
section 9 including,  –

(i) psychiatrist-patient ratio;

(ii) other medical or para-medical staff;

(iii) space requirement;

(iv) treatment facilities; and

(iv). equipment:

(g) the manner in which and the conditions subject to  which  a  psychiatric
hospital or psychiatric nursing home shall be maintained under section 10;

(h)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

(i) the manner in which records shall be maintained  under  sub-section  (1)
of section 13.

(j) the facilities to be provided under section 14 of  the  treatment  of  a
mentally ill person as an out-patient;

(k). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(l)  the qualification of persons who may be appointed as Visitors  and  the
terms and conditions on which they may be appointed, under  section  37  and
their functions;

(m)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(n) any other matter which is required to be, or may be, prescribed.”



19.   We have already adverted to Rule 20 of the  Rules  of  1990  providing
for the manner  of  maintenance  of  psychiatric  hospital  and  psychiatric
nursing home. Besides that provision, it may be useful to refer  to  Chapter
V of the same Rules of 1990, providing for minimum facilities for  treatment
of patients in  the  psychiatric  hospital  and  psychiatric  nursing  home.


20.   Reverting to the 1995 Act, there are ample provisions in this  Act  to
ensure proper functioning of the  Homes  accommodating  mentally  challenged
persons.  This  Act,  no  doubt,  deals  with  the  aspirations  of  persons
inflicted with disability generally. The expression “disability” is  defined
in Section 2(i) which includes mental retardation and  mental  illness.  The
regime for proper maintenance and upkeep  of  the  Homes  established  under
this Act for mentally challenged persons, would apply  proprio  vigore.  The
appropriate Government is not only required  to  establish  such  Homes  but
also to create  an  environment  to  impart  education  to  the  inmates  as
predicated  in  Chapter  V  of  the  said  Act  and  also  opportunities  of
employment for the inmates in terms of Chapter VI. Chapter VII of  the  1995
Act deals with affirmative action and Chapter VIII stipulates  measures  for
non-discrimination.  Chapter  IX  of  the  Act  obligates  the   appropriate
Government and Local Authorities to promote and sponsor research on  matters
referred  to  therein.  Chapter  XI  provides  for   establishment   of   an
institution  for  persons  with  severe  disabilities  by  the   appropriate
Government. The Chief Commissioner and the Commissioners  For  Persons  with
Disabilities are required to be appointed for overseeing the stated  matters
including regarding  the  conditions  of  nursing  Homes  for  mentally  ill
persons.

21.   As the attention of  this  Court  was  invited  to  issues  concerning
institutions established under the 1995 Act in different states,   we  would
first deal with such institutions.  The concerned  States/Union  Territories
have filed affidavit disclosing  the  conditions  prevailing  in  the  Homes
established  under  the  1995  Act  within  their  jurisdiction.  All  those
affidavits be placed before the Central Coordination  Committee  established
under the 1995 Act. Similarly, the  affidavit  of  the  State  concerned  be
placed before the State Coordination Committee of the concerned  State.  The
said  Authorities  have  ample   power   to   monitor   and   evaluate   the
implementation of the programmes including to  review  and  coordinate  with
the appropriate Government on matters  relevant  for  improvisation  of  the
conditions of the Home within the State or for introducing welfare  measures
for the inmates therein.  Section  8  of  1995  Act  obligates  the  Central
Coordination Committee to review and coordinate the activities  of  all  the
Departments of the Government and other  Governmental  and  non-Governmental
Organizations which are dealing   with  matters  relating  to  persons  with
disabilities.  The  Central  Coordination  Committee  also   discharges   an
advisory role including to develop  a  national  policy  to  address  issues
faced by persons with disabilities. It has to advise the Central  Government
on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation  and  projects  with
respect to disability.  As the factual position  stated  in  the  affidavits
filed by the respective State/Union Territory before this Court will  become
available to the Central Coordination Committee, it  will  be  in  a  better
position to formulate a comprehensive  national policy on  matters  relevant
to address the issues.   It may develop a  national  policy  or  modify  the
existing national policy, programmes or schemes, as may  be  required.  That
in turn can be implemented at the micro level.  The  recommendations  to  be
made by the Central Coordination Committee at the micro level  must  ideally
focus on zone wise necessity of the four  regions  of  the  country  and  in
particular State wise requirements. Further,  on  identifying  issues  about
non-implementation  or  non-compliance,  the  concerned  State  Coordination
Committee can be directed by the Central Coordination Committee in  exercise
of its power under Section 23 of the 1995 Act. Section 23 of  the  1995  Act
reads thus:

“23. Power to give directions. – In the performance of its  functions  under
this Act,-

(a) the Central Co-ordination Committee shall be bound  by  such  directions
in writing, as the Central Government may give to it; and (b) the State  Co-
ordination Committee shall be bound by such directions in  writing,  as  the
Central Co-ordination Committee or the State Government may give to it:

  Provided  that  where  a  direction  given  by  the  State  Government  is
inconsistent  with  any  direction  given  by  the   Central   Co-ordination
Committee, the matter shall be referred to the Central  Government  for  its
decision”.



Thus, direction issued  by  the  Central  Coordination  Committee  would  be
binding on the concerned State Coordination Committee.  In  case,  direction
given by the State Government to the concerned State Coordination  Committee
is in any manner inconsistent  with  the  direction  given  by  the  Central
Coordination  Committee,  that  matter  must  be  referred  to  the  Central
Government for its decision, as mandated by the proviso  to  Clause  (b)  of
Section 23 of the 1995 Act. This exercise be completed  within a  reasonable
time but not later than six months.

22.   In  addition,  the  Secretary  of  the  concerned  Department  of  the
respective State/Union Territory must place  the  affidavit  filed  in  this
Court before the State Coordination Committee of the  concerned  State,  who
in turn must undertake similar exercise of evaluation of the  conditions  of
the local Homes and take remedial measures within a reasonable time but  not
later than six months. The direction so issued  by  the  State  Coordination
Committee to the local institution/Home established under the 1995 Act  must
be forwarded contemporaneously to the  Central  Coordination  Committee  for
information so  that  even  the  Central  Coordination  Committee  would  be
abreast of that development,  which can be  reckoned  by  it  while  issuing
direction to the concerned State Coordination Committee.

23.   From the legislative scheme of 1995 Act, it is amply  clear  that  the
State  Coordination  Committee  is  primarily   responsible   for   ensuring
compliance of the mandate regarding the infrastructure and other  facilities
to be provided in the Homes established under the  1995  Act  and  also  for
overseeing that the same are properly  maintained  from  time  to  time  and
comply with the policies and programmes designed for achieving equality  and
full participation of persons with disabilities. The provisions of the  1995
Act provide for checks and balances for which hierarchy of Authorities  have
been created to ensure that persons  with  disabilities  are  provided  with
opportunity of full participation and equality in  the  region.  That  being
the  obligation  of  the  State,  must   be    implemented   through   these
Authorities.

24.   Besides the State Coordination Committee in  the  concerned  State  is
made primarily responsible for ensuring that institutions which fulfill  all
the criteria alone are  established  and  properly  maintained  as  per  the
specified  norms,  the  Central  Coordination  Committee  is  also   equally
responsible  to  ensure  that  the  policies  and  programmes  designed  for
achieving full participation of persons with disabilities is  taken  to  its
logical end by all the duty holders without any exception. It  is  for  that
reason, the Central Coordination Committee is fastened with the function  of
review and  coordination  of  activities  of  all  the  Departments  of  the
Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental  Organisations  which
are dealing   with  matters  relating  to  persons  with  disabilities;  and
including bestowed with the power to issue directions in  terms  of  Section
23 of the Act - which are  binding  on  the  State  Coordination  Committee.
Failure to comply with such directions must be taken serious note of by  the
concerned State Government.

25.   Further, the Secretary of the Union of India, Ministry of  Health  and
Social  Welfare  shall  be  personally  responsible   for   monitoring   and
overseeing the  progress  and  action  taken  by  the  Central  Coordination
Committee in respect of establishments registered under  the  1995  Act  and
under the control of the Central Government.

26.   The Authorities may explore the possibility of  using  IT   Technology
for capturing and retrieving real  time information about the conditions  of
concerned institution, which  will  facilitate  the  Authority   to  closely
monitor the conditions of the concerned  hospital/Home  and  the  facilities
made available to the inmates.

27.    In  our  opinion,  six  months  time  frame  given  to  the   Central
Coordination Committee and the concerned  State  Coordination  Committee  is
sufficient to enable them to  take necessary remedial  measures  and  ensure
that deficiencies in the respective institutions established under the  1995
Act are cured within such period. In addition to the issues that  have  come
on record in the form of affidavit of the concerned  State  and  also  other
material  which  has come  on  record  in  the present  proceedings  or  any
further inputs to be  received  by  the  Committee(s)  and  including  after
conducting    inspection    of    the    institution(s),    the    concerned
Committee/Authority   must  take   sufficient   measures   to   remedy   the
deficiencies within the time frame of not later than six months.

28.   The Chairperson of  the  State  Coordination  Committee  shall  submit
compliance report not later than eight months from today in the Registry  of
this Court after providing advance copy thereof to the Central  Coordination
Committee. The Central Coordination Committee shall then submit  State/Union
Territory wise report with its comments,  if any, within ten months  in  the
Registry of this Court.

29.   In so far as hospitals and nursing homes established  under  the  1987
Act, similar procedure can be followed. All the  affidavits/materials  filed
in this proceedings be made available to the Central  Authority  for  Mental
Health Services. The  affidavit  of  the  concerned  State  be  additionally
forwarded to the respective State Authority for Mental Health Services.  The
Central Authority for Mental Health Services  shall  cause  to  inspect  and
evaluate the conditions of the psychiatric hospital and psychiatric  nursing
home and other Mental Health Service  Agencies  under  the  control  of  the
Central Government. Similarly, the  concerned  State  Authority  for  Mental
Health Services shall cause to inspect and evaluate the  conditions  of  the
psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes and other Mental  Health
Service Agencies under the control of the State Government.  The  respective
Authorities shall issue necessary directions  to  the  institution(s)  under
its jurisdiction  and ensure its implementation not later  than  six  months
from today. A compliance report in this  behalf  be  filed  by  the  Central
Authority for Mental Health Service  and  the  State  Authority  for  Mental
Health Service of the concerned State, as the case may be, in  the  Registry
of this Court not later than eight months from today.

30.    We make it clear that the Secretary of the  concerned  Department  of
the respective State/Union Territory shall  be  personally  responsible  for
monitoring and overseeing the  progress  and  action  taken   by  the  State
Authority for  Mental  Health  Service  within  its  State.  Similarly,  the
Secretary of the Union of India  of  Health  and  Social  Welfare  shall  be
personally responsible for monitoring and overseeing the  progress  made  by
the Central Authority for Mental  Health  Services  and  compliance  of  the
directions in relation to  the  establishments  under  the  control  of  the
Central Government.

31.   The Appeal is disposed of in the above  terms  with  no  order  as  to
costs.

                                        …………………………………CJI.
                                                       (T.S. Thakur)



                                        ……………………………………J.
                                                    (A.M. Khanwilkar)

New Delhi,
Dated: December  08, 2016












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