Madras HC Grants Custody Of 282 Inmates To St Joseph Hospice, But They Don’t Want To Go Back

The hospice building in Salavakkam. (via St. Jospeh’s Hospices website)

Dismayed by the death of at least 12 inmates, the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed cops to immediately hand back the custody of remaining 282 inmates to the St Joseph Hospice in Paleswaram in Kancheepuram district, The Hindu reports.

After reports of the hospice transporting vegetables along with the dead body of one of its inmates in an ambulance led to a number of criminal complaints, the Kancheepuram police had shifted 290 destitutes to government-recognised institutions. The registration of the hospice had expired in September 2017.

After at least 12 out of 290 inmates shifted out from the hospice last month had died, a petition was filed in the High Court by Father V. Thomas, who runs the hospice, demanding the custody of the inmates.

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Granting him the custody of the inmates, Justice Justice C T Selvam orally observed, “Even in our own house we may hesitate to serve the old age people, whereas the hospice was doing so with the good intention of serving them”.

“What was the need to interfere,” he asked.

The answer came from inmates, one of whom expressed her grief saying she would “die here than die in misery and pain at the hospice”. The woman, identified as Muthammal, was shifted from the hospice along with 20 other inmates to another home in Vilvarayanallur, Madurantakam taluk. Other inmates also echoed the same sentiment, saying that their time at the hospice was ‘horror-filled.’

“We cannot go back there, they will kill us. Especially, now since they know that we have been vocal about their behaviour towards us,” another inmate, Mani, said.

The inmates have, over the past one month, described disturbing incidents where they were badly beaten for seeking help, not allowed to move out of the wards, fed tasteless food and not permitted to speak to their families.

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