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Habeas Corpus writ petition dismissed because of vulnerability in testimony: Kerala High Court

Vulnerability in the testimony occasioned by the mental disturbance caused the dismissal of the writ petition by the Kerala High Court. The bench of Hon’ble Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice MR Anitha gave judgment in the case of Dr. Kailas Natarajan vs. The District Police Chief  [WP (crl.) no. 309 of 2020] stating that even though the woman was a major, her testimony couldn’t be relied upon due to her mental conditions and inability in taking her own decisions.

The case began when the petitioner filed a writ petition for the release of a 21-year-old woman from her parents’ forceful custody. The petition proclaimed that the woman was his spiritual live-in partner and yoga shishya. The woman’s parents contended that their daughter was suffering from depression, while ago, and for the treatment, they had approached the petitioner (psychiatrist). According to the parents, for the sake of counseling and therapy, the petitioner insisted on taking solitary sessions with the woman, because of which the woman developed attachment towards the petitioner. Parents argued that the attachment was very obsessive and wasn’t normal.

HC came to know that the petitioner was a 52-year-old psychiatrist and was married and had children and was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old patient of his’. In the court, the petitioner had claimed that the woman was his spiritual live-in partner. The woman, in turn, also agreed to the same and said that their relationship was divine.

Petitioner made the false allegations of physical violence against the parents but the court noted that all the allegations were vague and there were no signs of physical violence upon the woman.

While referring to the judgment in the Hadiya case, Kerala High Court observed and stated that “We once again extract from Shafin Jahan to observe that from our interaction with the subject the suggestion was of a vulnerability occasioned by mental disturbance, which persuaded us to refuse invocation of the extraordinary remedy under Article 226 since the subject was in the safe custody of her parents”.

HC bench contended that the “Doctrine of Parens Patriae” would not only give powers to the state to intervene on behalf of a child in child custody matters but also could be applied where the mentally ill were concerned.

The HC bench noted that the petitioner had breached the trust of the woman’s parents. HC bench had to dismiss the writ petition filed by the petitioner because of the following reasons:

  • The woman wasn’t able to make her own decisions and showed signs of vulnerability occasioned by mental disturbance.
  • Bench concluded that there were no signs that of the two ever having lived together.
  • There were no signs that her parents illegally took her away and seeing the mental condition of the woman, HC observed that it was best for her to be in her parents’ custody.
  • Court also observed that the petitioner was not leading a socially acceptable life and had difficulties in explaining the means and goals of his spirituality.

Hence, because of all the above-cited reasons, HC dismissed the writ petition of the Petitioner.

Click here to read Judgement

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