The Kerala High Court has sought from the state government details regarding the mode of appointments to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the qualifications prescribed for the same.
The query from the high court came in connection with an order issued by the Commission directing psychiatric treatment of a woman on her husband’s complaint in an ongoing matrimonial row between the couple.
The court observed that the Commission ”acted totally oblivious to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017” as it ”had no jurisdiction” to direct psychiatric treatment of the woman, that too based on the opinion of the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO).
It questioned how the DCPO was competent to decide whether the woman needed psychiatric observation and treatment and said that it was ”appalling” that the Commission thought it fit to direct the DCPO to submit a mental status report. It also said that a Judicial Magistrate, who had jurisdiction under the Mental Healthcare Act, had dismissed the husband’s plea for admitting the woman in a psychiatric facility.
”In the overall circumstances we find the Commission to have acted without jurisdiction causing undue hardship to not only the children, but also the mother,” it said.
The court directed the senior government pleader, appearing for the state, to get instructions ”as to the manner in which appointments are made to the Commission, which deals with children, their rights and also the rights of persons, who have custody of such children.” ”The Government Pleader shall direct the appropriate officer to file an affidavit specifically on the manner in which the appointments are made and the qualifications prescribed for the same. To facilitate the same, this court on its own impleads the state of Kerala, represented by its Chief Secretary,” it added.
The high court’s order came on a habeas corpus plea by the woman’s father seeking directions to the police to produce before the court his daughter, who had been admitted in a mental hospital, and grandchildren, who were in their father’s custody.
The court also directed the SHO of Kodungallur ”to place on record the progress of investigation carried out in the crime we directed to be registered on the complaint of the subject-mother”.
The court, on December 6, had directed the SHO to record the statements of the woman and her children in connection with their alleged abduction from their rented accommodation by her husband and ”if any cognizable offence is detected, investigation shall be carried out and taken to its logical conclusion”.
The court, on December 6. had also allowed the woman and her children to go and reside with her father and had directed the husband, a lawyer and working as section officer in the Law department of the state government, not to interfere in their life.
The woman’s father had claimed in his plea that there was marital discord between the couple since marriage and subsequently, after the children were born she was evicted from the matrimonial home.
Thereafter, she was residing with her children in a rental accommodation and when her husband again started harassing them, she filed an application for divorce, the petition has claimed.
It further said that in retaliation for the divorce application, the husband attempted to portray the wife as a mental patient and approached a judicial magistrate to get her admitted in a psychiatric facility. However, when that attempt was unsuccessful, the husband approached the Commission which passed an order in his favour based on a mental status report given by the DCPO, the high court noted in its order.
The order further noted that based on the Commission’s order, the husband trespassed into the woman’s rented accommodation and by force took away the children and admitted her in a mental hospital.
It also noted that in its interaction with the children, they said they were forcefully taken from their house and separated from their mother at their father’s instance.
Both children also told the court that their mother does not have any psychiatric illness and she has been very caring towards them and that they do not want to continue living with their father.