Closest relative acting as a guardian for an incapacitated individual entitled to withdraw from latter’s bank for necessary expenses: Delhi High Court

In the case revolving around the maintenance of an incapacitated relative, the Delhi High Court concluded that the person maintaining the incapacitated individual shall be directed to withdraw money from the latter’s bank account to cover for the necessary medical expenses; this was decided before the bench of Prateek Jalan J. in the matter of Bhim Singh v AGM, State Bank of India [W.P.(C) 354/2021]

The case of the petitioner is that his nephew has been rendered incapacitated and bedridden as he has been suffering from acute ischemic strokes since 2018. According to the petitioner, his nephew’s health worsened in November, 2020, for which he had to be hospitalized. He further submits that an amount of ₹30,000 per month would be required so as to meet daily and medical expenditure, including doctors’ fees, medicines, food, therapist, nurse etc. Although the nephew is married and has two children, it is stated that he and his wife had mutually decided to part ways on account of marital discord. A settlement dated 06.02.2020 was entered into by them which has, however, not been enforced due to the ailing health. The petitioner, being the paternal uncle of, states that he has been taking care of his nephew and has been acting as his guardian, in addition to maintaining his own family, but is not in a position to financially sustain his nephew indefinitely, and meet his medical expenditure as well.

It was contended before the court that Under Section 14 of the 1999 Act, a “relative” of a person with a disability may make an application for the appointment of a guardian to the local level committees constituted under the said Act. Regulation 12 of the National Trust Regulations, 2001 inter alia provides for any member of the family to be appointed as the guardian.

The court referred to the judgment of Vandana Tyagi and Anr. vs. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and Ors. [W.P.(C) 11003/2019], decided on 07.01.2020] where the Court was moved by the daughters of a comatose lady, seeking access to the Public Provident Fund account opened by their deceased father. A medical board reported that the mother did not fall within the ambit of the Mental Healthcare Act, although the respondent-bank, in that case, opposed the grant of relief, the Court came to the conclusion that the petitioners were not required to obtain a guardianship certificate, as a comatose person was not covered by either of the aforesaid Acts.

The court held that it was in the best interests of the incapacitated individual that his relative, i.e. the paternal uncle should be allowed to withdraw a sum of 20,000 from the nephew’s bank account so as to meet the medical expenditures of the same; the court further directed that “The petitioner will also file a statement of accounts before the learned Registrar General every three months stating the items of expenditure with regard to the aforesaid amount of ₹20,000 per month. The first such statement will be filed by 15.07.2021 for the period April-June, 2021. The statement of accounts will be supported by appropriate documentation including bills, receipts, etc. The petition will be listed before the learned Registrar General/Registrar of this Court every three months for compliance with this aspect. It is open to the learned Registrar General/Registrar of this Court to require the petitioner to file further documentation to satisfy him with regard to the expenditure incurred.

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