Taking cognizance of a report published in The New Indian Express on October 18, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has said that it would investigate the possible human right violations in the jails across the state. ‘Express’ had reported that a large number of prisoners suffering from mental illness, including those under trials, were languishing either in the forensic ward of the jails or in mental health centres for years as captives and without trials.
Responding to the report, SHRC member K E Gangadharan said that the matter was of grave concern. “Based on the news report, the Commission has decided to thoroughly investigate the matter and will also seek a report from the prison DGP on the matter,” he said. The commission would discuss the issue with various stakeholders including human rights activists. “What we have came to know about mentally-ill inmates is only the tip of the iceberg. The present state of these people and their living conditions is much worse. Although it is for the judiciary to take a final decision on the fate of these prisoners, there is no doubt that immediate action is needed. The Commission will take up the matter with the concerned parties,” Gangadharan added.
As per the latest Prison Statistics prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 296 inmates in the jails across the state are suffering from mental illness. Of them 224 have been convicted and the rest are undertrials. As per the report, inmates with mental illness account for 4.26 per cent of the total 6,947 prisoners in the state.