Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Need of Sensitive & Aware Judges in the High Courts

Dear Friends,

In the instant case, I am delighted that a senior judge of a High Court had the sensitivity, to use his extra ordinary jurisdiction, to protect the person and properties of a Person with Disability (Intellectual Disability). However, I am also at a loss of words to explain what I feel on the lack of awareness of the National Trust Act 1999 in the judiciary!

I strongly feel that we in the disability sector have to take this responsibility also to spread the message across and yes there is a urgent need to raise the awareness level of the Judicial Officers also especially in various High Courts of India who often use their extra-ordinary jurisdictions and writ jurisdictions to decide matters relating to Fundamental Rights of the marginalised sections of the soceity like the present one.

Appended is the News. To read from Source click on Source: Express Buzz.com regards,

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights
09811125521

There is a law to protect the mentally retarded

Scaria Meledam First Published : 09 Mar 2009 01:39:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 09 Mar 2009 01:43:25 PM IST

The ‘Law Watch’ published on January 26, 2009 had reported about the exercise of the extra-ordinary jurisdiction of the High Court by Justice V Giri to appoint a guardian to protect the person and properties of a mentally retarded person since the Mental Health Act did not contain a provision for such appointment and to point out the need to correct the lacuna in the Act by a suitable amendment.

Referring to the action, Dr (Mrs) Rajam P R S Pillay from Thiruvananthapuram has written a letter pointing out that the Court had missed the fact that there was an Act providing the appointment of legal guardians for mentally retarded persons and thus filling the lacuna in the Mental Health Act.

The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (for short, The National Trust Act), provides for the constitution of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability. The head office of the Trust is in New Delhi and it has offices at other places in India. The general superintendence, directive and management of the affairs and business of the Trust is vested with a board consisting of a chairman and 20 members. The board should constitute a local-level committee for a specified area. The committee consists of a civil service officer, a representative of a registered organisation and a person with disability.

Section 14 of the Act provides for guardianship.
A parent of a person with disability or his relative can make an application to the local-level committee for appointment of any person of his choice to act as a guardian of the persons with disability. Any registered organisation also can make an application to the local- level committee for appointment of a guardian for a person with disability. While considering the application for appointment of a guardian, the local-level committee should consider whether the person with disability needs a guardian and the purposes for which the guardianship is required and then make recommendation for the appointment of a guardian. It can also provide for the obligations of the guardian.

Section 15 details the duties of Guardian:
Every person appointed as a guardian of a person with disability should, wherever required, either have the care of such persons of disability and his property or be responsible for the maintenance of the person with disability. Every guardian should, within six months of his appointment, deliver to the authority which appointed him an inventory of immovable properties belonging to the person with disability and all assets and other movable property received on his behalf together with a statement of all claims due to and all debts and liabilities due by the person with disability. Every guardian should also furnish to the appointing authority within three months after the close of every financial year an account of the property and assets in his charge, the sums received and disbursed on account of the person with disability and the balance remaining with him.

There is also a provision for the removal of guardian: Whenever a parent or a relative of a person with disability or a registered organisation finds that the guardian is abusing or neglecting a person with disability; or misappropriating or neglecting the property, they should apply to the committee for the removal of the guardian. Then the committee should, if it is satisfied that there is a ground for removal, remove the guardian, recording reasons for the same and appoint a new guardian or make other arrangements for the care and protection of person with disability. The removed guardian is bound to deliver the charge of all properties of the person with disability to the new guardian and to account for all moneys received or disbursed by him.

The P R S Pillay Memorial Trust of which Dr Rajam is the managing trustee, is the state nodal agency centre of the National Trust which has constituted the local-level committees in all districts under the chairmanship of District Collectors.

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