HC: change protocols on stress, substance abuse

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Indian Air Force (IAF) to review and change its protocol for dealing with issues of stress and substance abuse in the force, saying its systems have to be in tune with the law.

The direction by a Bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel was issued as it disapproved the manner in which the IAF had kept a a 30-year-old corporal confined in a hospital’s psychiatric ward as he was an alcoholic.

Mental Health Act

“We want to make sure the IAF does not think that the Mental Health Act does not apply to it. There cannot be such a casual exercise that you can keep a person hospitalised for as long as you want,” the Bench said.

“Review your protocol and make changes as per the law. You are not above the law. This has to stop. We want your systems to be in tune with the law as we do not know how many more people are being kept [confined] like this,” it also said.

It also said the manner in which the IAF conducted itself “reflects poorly” on the force, as it kept the corporal confined in the psychiatric ward of the de-addiction centre at the Army Base Hospital in Delhi Cantonment here for more than the specified duration of 28 days. It directed that the corporal, Kriyad Yogesh Bhankhariya, be allowed to go home with his father and made it clear that no action regarding his medical category or fitness be taken without prior approval of the court.

The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the corporal’s father, claiming his son was being illegally confined at the Army Base Hospital.

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