The Kerala High Court Wednesday dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a 52-year-old “spiritual” guru/teacher seeking the release of his 21-year-old shishya/student from her parents’ custody.
A division bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha said that in their assessment, based on their interaction with the woman, she was incapable of making her own decisions. Her parents had raised serious concerns of her obsessive behaviour which, the Court said, it also witnessed when they interacted with her.
“We observe that from our interaction with the subject the suggestion was of a vulnerability occasioned by mental disturbance, which persuaded us to refuse invocation of the extraordinary remedy under Article 226 since the subject was in the safe custody of her parents”, the bench held.
The bench added that it sought permission of the woman to summon a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst to talk to her so as to better assess her mental state but she “adamantly” refused to talk to anybody.
The court, thus, held that it did not find any reason to remove the 21-year-old from the custody of her parents who, it thought, were best equipped to deal with her present situation.
Taking note of the antecedent of the petitioner, the court said he could not be trusted with the custody of the woman.
Distinguishing the decision of the Supreme Court in the Hadiya case, the court pointed out that in that case there was nothing to suggest that she suffered from any kind of mental incapacity or vulnerability. She was absolutely categorical in her submissions and unequivocal in expressing what she wanted. However, in the present case, the woman showed signs of “vulnerability occasioned by mental disturbance”, the court said.