HC orders detailed probe into recurring deaths in mental health centres in Kottayam

HC orders detailed probe into recurring deaths in mental health centres in Kottayam
The Kerala High Court

Ernakulam: The high court has directed the district police to conduct a comprehensive probe into the recurring deaths reported in three mental health centres in Kottayam district.

The court asked the district police chief to monitor the probe besides conducting a periodical review of the investigations.  It further asked the police to complete the probe either in one year or the period to be decided by the district SP.

The court direction for detailed probe pertains to 10 cases registered with Karukachal, Changanassery, Chingavanam and Thrikkodithanam police stations. The police informed the court that further probe was continuing in all the cases and Changanassery DySP has been entrusted with the task. The progress of the investigations is being monitored by district SP.

Justice Alexander Thomas issued the directions on a petition filed by the authorities of  Sanjeevani  Karukachal and Jeevan Jyoti Rehabilitation Centres, Kurichy. If required the police may seek the legal opinion of the Director-General of Prosecutions, the court said. 

In case if the petitioners have any complaints regarding the probe, the same should be conveyed to the district police chief.  Proper and prompt action should be taken by police on such complaints, the court directed.

A number of sudden deaths of the inmates were reported in mental health centres in the area in March 2020. The petitioners complained that they suspected problems in a particular medicine which was being administered to the inmates. However, the medicine was not sent for laboratory examination at Government Analyst Lab.  The government pointed out that the state lacked facilities for examining the toxicity of drugs and the suspected medicine would be sent to a suitable lab for analysis.

The petitioners demanded that instead of subjecting the sample collected from retail outlets to laboratory tests, medicine samples should be collected from the establishments itself and sent to the government laboratory for proper examination. The investigation official can seek legal opinion on the matter and take a decision accordingly.

The court also directed the probe officials to find suitable places which have facilities for toxicity analysis.

The results of the samples which the mental health authorities got examined at their own level in the Bengaluru laboratory, can also be analyzed.

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