KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed superintendents of all mental health centres in the State to ensure that no patient is placed naked when in seclusion, even those with acute suicidal tendencies, unless the situation warrants.
The court directed superintendents of the Thrissur, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram mental health centres to devise a suitable dress code for such patients in consultation with doctors.
The court issued the order while considering the petition on the practice in MHCs across the State of confining, in naked condition, mentally challenged patients with suicidal tendencies.
The petitioner pointed out a recent incident at the Thirssur MHC, where the superintendent admitted that two girls were confined in such manner for a short period, due to their suicidal tendencies.
The Psychiatric Society of Kerala pointed out that seclusion rooms at MHCs were primitive and akin to prison cells, whereas developed countries have abolished such seclusion rooms.
Kerala State Mental Heath Authority secretary D Raju submitted before the court that psychiatric intensive care units and better seclusion rooms with proper ventilation were required at all MHCs.
“The right to life is the right to live with dignity, and it applies to those with sound mental disposition as well as those who are mentally challenged,” observed the court, and asked superintendents of the Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode MCHs to gather the necessary inputs from the Thrissur MHC, which has reportedly devised a dress code suitable for patients with suicidal tendencies.
The court further held that the State Police Chief should issue the necessary orders to superintendents of the jails to ensure that convicts and under-trial prisoners sent to MHCs are accompanied with a report of the medical officer of the prison, indicating the exact offence/crime committed by them, the history of the patient and details of the family as available in the prison records.
The court suo motu impleaded Director General of Prisons and directed to convene a meeting of superintendents of various jails within one month. The court asked to file a report on availability of space for setting up rehabilitation centres in all prisons to house inmates released from MHCs.