KOCHI: Declining Navy’s demand, the Kerala High Court on Thursday directed INHS Sanjeevani Commandant to produce Sunil Kumar Sahu, a sailor on whom mental disorder was alleged by his senior officials, before National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, for further examination within three days.
A Division Bench comprising Justice V K Mohanan and Justice K Harilal passed the order on a petition filed by the sailor’s wife Aarti Sahu alleging illegal detention. Sunil Kumar Sahu, a native of UP, is a shipwright artificer attached to INS Kattabomman at Thirunelveli, under the Eastern Naval Command. The Bench suo motu impleaded the director of NIMHANS as respondent in the case and directed him to obtain an expert and independent opinion after conducting examination on his mental condition by constituting a board of expert doctors. The Director should file a report in a sealed cover within 15 days and if needed, he can seek extension of time.
The Bench directed the Navy to make arrangements for the to and fro journey of Sahu accompanied by his wife. The expenses for the journey and consultation at the hospital should be met by the Navy in accordance with the law and procedures.
The Navy was directed to take Sahu from Government Medical College, Ernakulam, to Bangalore.
The court also asked the NIMHANS director to inform it when Sahu can be sent back from the hospital after observation. Appearing for Navy, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand submitted a list of 16 armed forces hospitals having specialised psychiatric department and facilities. During the argument, the ASG also suggested that the sailor should be sent back to the Navy or shifted to any of the 16 service hospitals located across India. The ASG also opposed a psychological evaluation of the sailor.
The court refused to accept the plea of the Navy and observed that, since the allegation in the petition was against the officers of the Navy which forms one of the components of the defense, it was better to get an independent expert opinion to take a final decision in the case. Additional Director General of Prosecution Tom Jose Padinjarekkara submitted that the sailor could be shifted to NIMHANS which is governed by the Union Government and the court could seek an independent opinion from the director after constituting a board of expert panel.
The court had earlier referred Sahu to Government Medical College Ernakulam for further examination, after the doctor from Ernakulam General Hospital certified that prima facie no mental instability was found. The doctors of the Department of Psychiatry had submitted a report stating that they could not arrive at a definite dignosis. The court observed that the report was not helpful to it in ascertaining whether Sahu has any mental ailment.