Mangaluru, April 23, 2017: Reports in the media praise a rare and humane move of a city sessions judge, who discharged a mentally disabled 25-year-old orphan from Chhattisgarh of murder charges. He took the rare step also arranged for a centre in Belthangady to take care of him.
In April 2014, Javaharalal Bhog, a native of Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, was arrested after he attacked and killed an elderly cattle grazer in Moodbidri. Bhog, who was hungry and thirsty, was enraged when the cattle grazer refused to give him water.
According to Moodbidri police, Bhog was one among a group of labourers from Chhattisgarh working for a borewell firm in Moodbidri. When he was abandoned by his group, he began to look for work on a hungry stomach, and that’s when the incident occurred.
Following reference of the case for trial, the First Additional District and Sessions Court Judge C.M. Joshi noticed on November 25, 2016, that Bhog was not in a position to understand court proceedings. He sought a mental fitness report from the medical board of the Mangaluru prison. A report that came from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Benglauru, said Bhog was suffering from mild mental retardation.
In his evidence before the court on February 2, professor of psychiatry in NIMHANS, Sanjeeva Jain, said the mental age of Bhog was between 5 and 10 years. He said there was no chance of Bhog recovering and being fit for trial. On the basis of this evidence, the judge discharged Bhog on February 22.
With no family members around, the judge found it was unsafe to leave Bhog to wander. On the same day, he registered a separate proceeding under the Mental Health Act for passing a reception order for Bhog’s care. Public Prosecutor Raju Poojary Bannady was appointed as amicus curiae. The judge directed the prison authorities to take care of Bhog till completion of proceedings.
After gathering information of care centres from NIMHANS and DIMHANS (Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) and taking a close look at the provisions under the Mental Health Act, the judge on April 13 passed an order directing a charitable institution in Belthangady to look after Bhog. The judge also directed the police and the District Legal Services Authority to help the institution in finding Bhog’s family members and also in finding a care centre in Chhattisgarh. Kudos for such concern in a world without care.
The judge has asked the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to take the issue of the need of adequate measures in the RPWD Act for the care of mentally challenged persons.