BENGALURU: Observing that the psychological assessment of prisoners in most jails revealed a shocking state of affairs, the Karnataka High Court said it is disturbing that Bengaluru Central Prison has 2,023 inmates suffering from various mental disorders. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar made this observation after going through statistics submitted in the affidavit by the state government, in compliance with directions issued by court in response to the PIL filed by the High Court Legal Services Committee.
Noting that vague information was provided in the affidavit, the bench said the state government must come up with immediate measures to ensure they are treated properly. The bench directed the medical officer of Bengaluru Central Prison to file a detailed report on treatment given to 2,023 prisoners, along with their state, name of doctor and medical institution where they were treated, in a sealed cover.
A similar direction was issued to medical officer of Kalaburagi Central Prison, while adjourning the hearing to March 27, 2020. On December 17, 2019, the bench had directed the state government to file an affidavit on the steps taken to evaluate the mental health of all prisoners in the state.
According to the state’s affidavit, the state government submitted the list of prisoners suffering from mental illness and were being treated for this condition. The government informed the court that, in the first phase, the exercise of evaluating the mental health of prisoners was taken up at the central prisons of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Ballari, Kalaburagi, Shivamogga, Belagavi, Vijayapura and Dharwad and was completed.
However, the evaluation of mental illness in district prisons of Mandya and Gadag is under progress, and would be completed at the earliest, the state said. Psychiatric ward: On February 19, 2020, Director of Nimhans, Bengaluru, was requested to establish psychiatric wards in central prisons of Karnataka, the state governmnt informed court. According to the PIL, there are 4,916 prisoners who suffer from mental illness in Karnataka.