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N.H.R.C. to ensure upkeep of mentally ill undertrials

DNIS News Network - The N.H.R.C. has framed guidelines to ensure the upkeep of mentally ill undertrials during their prison term.

The High Court has directed the Judicial Academy in Delhi to organise short-term courses to sensitise judicial officers to deal with cases involving accused who are mentally ill. In addition, the National Human Rights Commission (N.H.R.C.) has said that proper psychological or psychiatric counselling should be provided to these prisoners.

The N.H.R.C. has also advised that central and district jails should have facilities for preliminary treatment of learning disorders. "If an undertrial or a convict undergoing sentence becomes mentally ill while in prison, the State must provide medical support and pay for the medical care in a private hospital," an N.H.R.C. statement said.

Other suggestions -- like open lawns in jails for physical and mental exercises and discouragement of force against prisoners except in self-defence or in cases of attempted suicide -- were also made by the N.H.R.C. It also suggested that all mentally ill undertrials should be kept in one barrack in order to avoid ridicule and harassment by fellow-inmates.

These guidelines were submitted to the court of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice A.K. Sikri during the hearing of a petition, wherein the High Court released a mentally ill undertrial who had been languishing in jail for 20 years, for murder.