The Delhi High Court has issued a slew of directions to expedite setting up of halfway homes for mentally-ill prisoners and recruiting trained staff to be deployed there, saying these homes should start working with "utmost urgency".
Halfway homes are residences for individuals who are released from institutions treating the mentally ill or drug addicts to facilitate their readjustment in normal life.
A bench of Justices Gita Mittal and Anu Malhotra asked the Principal Secretary (Home) of Delhi government to complete the drafting of rules for recruiting staff to these homes and forward it to the Health Secretary expeditiously.
The Health Secretary has been asked to scrutinise the rules and forward it within four weeks to the Chief Secretary who in turn shall forward it within two months from the date of order to the UPSC for finalisation and notification.
"Given the imperative need to commence functioning of the halfway homes with utmost urgency, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) shall prioritise scrutiny of these rules and ensure these recruitment rules are finalised within four weeks of receipt from the Chief Secretary and notified immediately thereafter," the bench said in its order of February 22.
The head of the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) has been asked to give the timelines within which three halfway homes, being built by it in Dwarka, Rohini and Narela areas of Delhi, would be handed over to the Social Welfare Department.
The bench also directed the government to adhere to the timelines given by it for operationalisation of the half-way homes and for recruitment of staff to deal with mental health issues in Tihar Jail.
The directions came on an appeal moved in 2011 by a woman in August 2010 convicted of murdering her husband and step- daughter. She was later found to be suffering from schizophrenia.
The court had started looking into half-way homes for mentally-ill prisoners as the woman's brothers and sisters did not want to take her in or stand surety for her because of her illness, for which she has been undergoing treatment at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).