SC Seeks Reply from J&K on Jailed Dutch National’s Plea for Proper Medical Treatment

The Supreme Court has sought the response of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to a plea filed by a Dutch national, lodged in a jail in Jammu and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, seeking direction to the authorities for providing him proper medical treatment for his ailment at a specialised hospital.

The petitioner, 53-year-old Richard De Wit, who was arrested in April 2013 in Srinagar in connection with a murder case and is currently lodged in Jammu district jail, has said in his plea that he has been in jail for nearly 10 years and his medical condition is deteriorating as no proper medical treatment for the disease is available in the prison.

His plea came up for hearing before a bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal on Friday.

“Issue notice, returnable in two weeks. The counsel for the petitioner is permitted to serve the standing counsel for the State,” the bench said in its order.

Advocates T L Garg and Rohan Garg appeared for the petitioner.

The petitioner has sought his transfer from district jail, Jammu, to a specialised medical facility in New Delhi or to the Netherlands for proper treatment.

The petition said since adequate medical treatment for the ailment is not available in J&K, the petitioner’s fundamental right- the right to health- is being violated.

“Right to health is an inseparable part of right to life and an inherent and inescapable part of a dignified life. It is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” it said.

The plea has urged the apex court to permit the petitioner to travel to the Netherlands for proper treatment at one of the two specialised centres there for treatment with an undertaking that he shall come back and face the trial upon being cured.

The petitioner said the court concerned had suspended the trial against him in July 2021 owing to his medical condition.

“The trial has been suspended since July 3, 2021 but the petitioner continues to be deprived of adequate medical treatment. In fact, the direction by the trial court on July 3, 2021 to isolate the petitioner in the central jail for treatment may even worsen petitioner’s mental condition,” it said.

The plea said an unfortunate incident took place on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinagar in April 2013 when a British woman was found dead in her room.

The petitioner, who was also staying in a separate room on the same houseboat, was accused of being the offender and falsely implicated in the case, the plea said.

It claimed the trial court has been repeatedly informed by the medical board that adequate infrastructure is not present there to deal with the petitioner’s case and that he be shifted to a specialised facility.

The plea said the petitioner has been a patient of paranoid schizophrenia since his early years when he was in the Netherlands and also underwent therapy there.

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