The Delhi High Court today severely castigated the parents of a 23-year-old woman for trying to declare her mentally unstable and also came down heavily on the Delhi Police for facilitating the "illegality" of forcibly taking her away from her adopted home.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and C Hari Shankar provided immediate police protection to the "clear and coherent" young woman and the music teacher couple with whom she has been living for the last five years.
"She is your own daughter, how can you do this to her? She is an adult, you cannot force her," the court said as it directed the parents to undertake they would "not interfere with their daughter's peaceful life or subject her to any trauma or distress".
The stern observations came on a habeas corpus plea moved by the teacher couple. They alleged that the young woman was forcibly taken away from their home on the evening of June 11 by her parents, who were accompanied by a doctor and two medical staffers from the Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (VIMHANS) as well as a policeman from the Malviya Nagar police station.
The petitioners said the assaulters who vandalised their home, beat them up and took away their student after injecting her with a syringe.
After the couple filed the plea, the high court had directed the police yesterday to ensure the woman was present before the bench today.
The judges termed as "beyond comprehension" the manner in which the medical professionals acted in the case and directed all of them to file affidavits explaining their conduct and to be personally present on the next date of hearing.
Visibly upset with the parents for forcibly taking their adult daughter away and admitting her to a psychiatric hospital, the bench turned down their plea to ask the woman to return with them.
They were warned that doing so would lead to contempt action against them. She should be allowed to live a peaceful life and the parents should not interfere with her wish, the court said.
The bench also pulled up Delhi Police for "acting in a manner that clearly facilitated an illegality" of an adult person being taken away against her will.
It ordered an enquiry, directly supervised by the police commissioner and led by a deputy commissioner, into the manner in which the officers of Malviya Nagar police station acted.
It noted that the petitioners, the music teacher and his wife, who also teaches music, had informed the Malviya Nagar police station on the morning of June 11 that the woman's parents might try to forcibly take her away. But the police did nothing to protect them.
It also observed that the station house officer (SHO) did not carry out a preliminary enquiry. Moreover, in his status report, he "completely glossed over" the petitioners' claims that a policeman had accompanied the woman's parents when they forced their way into the teachers' house on June 11.
The bench also said the SHO's report did not say anything about the petitioners' allegation that they were beaten up and their house ransacked.
"A large number of illegalities have been committed with the consent of the police officers which has to be thoroughly inquired into and action taken," the bench said.
It said responsibility would be fixed on the various officers of the Malviya Nagar station for their acts and corrective action, as required, would be taken.
The bench sent notices to the doctor and medical staffers of VIMHANS who allegedly accompanied the woman's parents and helped them take her away in an ambulance.
Besides, notices were sent to the chief medical officer and consultant psychiatrist of the Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS) for seeking to carry out her psychiatric evaluation without her consent and for not allowing her to make a statement to the police.
The woman's parents and her brother, who was also allegedly involved in the June 11 incident, have been directed to be present on the next date.
The order was passed after the bench heard the woman, her music teachers and her parents in-chamber.
The court said that the woman, who was "clear and coherent", has claimed that she was forcibly taken away from petitioners' residence and that she was also beaten up.
During the hearing, the bench observed that the parents had twice in the past tried to get her declared mentally unwell by filing petitions in the trial court and the high court, but failed to get relief both times.
"Despite this the respondent 2 and 3 (parents) have persisted with their attempt in this regard," it said.