HINDU MINORITY & GUARDIANSHIP ACT, 1956
GUARDIAN APPOINTMENT FOR A PATIENT LYING IN ‘COMATOSE STATE’
Shobha Gopalakrishnan and Others v. State of Kera/a and Others
2019 (2) RCR (Civil) 422: 2019 (1) ILR (Ker) 669: 2019 (1) KLT 801:
2019 (2) KLJ 549
WP (C) No. 37278 and 37062 of 2018
Dated: February 20, 2019
BENCH: Justices P.R. Ramachandra Menon and N. Anil Kumar.
Kerala High Court: Guidelines to deal with the procedure for appointment of Guardian to a patient lying in ‘comatose state.’ Earlier to these Direction stated below, there were no specific provision is available in any Statutes to deal with the procedure for such appointment of Guardian to a victim lying in ‘comatose state’.
High Court finds it appropriate to fix the following norms/guidelines as a temporary measure:
(I) Petitioner/s seeking for appointment of Guardian to a person lying in comatose state shall disclose the particulars of the property, both movable and immovable, owned and possessed by the patient lying in comatose state.
(II) The condition of the person lying in comatose state shall be got ascertained by causing him to be examined by a duly constituted Medical Board, of whom one shall definitely be a qualified Neurologist.
(III) A simultaneous visit of the person lying in comatose state, at his residence, shall be caused to be made through the Revenue authorities, not below the rank of a Tahsildar and a report shall be procured as to all the relevant facts and figures, including the particulars of the close relatives, their financial conditions and such other aspects.
(IV) The person seeking appointment as Guardian of a person lying in comatose state shall be a close relative (spouse or children) and all the persons to be classified as legal heirs in the due course shall be in the party array. In the absence of the suitable close relative, a public official such as ‘Social Welfare officer’ can be sought to be appointed as a Guardian to the person lying in ‘comatose state’.
(V) The person applying for appointment as Guardian shall be one who is legally competent to be appointed as a Guardian.
(VI) The appointment of a Guardian as above shall only be in respect of the specific properties and bank accounts/such other properties of the person lying in comatose state; to be indicated in the order appointing the Guardian and the Guardian so appointed shall act always in the best interest of the person lying in ‘comatose state’.
(VII) The person appointed as Guardian shall file periodical reports in every six months before the Registrar General of this Court, which shall contain the particulars of all transactions taken by the Guardian in respect of the person and property of the patient in comatose state; besides showing the utilization of the funds received and spent by him/her.
(VIII) The Registrar General shall cause to maintain a separate Register with regard to appointment of Guardian to persons lying in ‘comatose state’ and adequate provision to keep the Reports filed by the Guardian appointed by this Court.
(IX) It is open for this Court to appoint a person as Guardian to the person lying in comatose state, either temporarily or for a specified period or permanently, as found to be appropriate.
(X) If there is any misuse of power or misappropriation of funds or non-extension of requisite care and protection or support with regard to the treatment and other requirements of the person lying in comatose state, it is open to bring up the matter for further consideration of this Court to re-open and revoke the power, to take appropriate action against the person concerned, who was appointed as the Guardian and also to appoint another person/public authority/Social Welfare Officer (whose official status is equal to the post of District Probation Officer) as the Guardian.
(XI) It shall be for the Guardian appointed by the Court to meet the obligations/duties similar to those as described under Section 15 of the National Trust Act and to maintain and submit the accounts similar to those contained in Section 16.
(XII) The Guardian so appointed shall bring the appointment to the notice of the Social Welfare Officer having jurisdiction in the place of residence, along with a copy of the verdict appointing him as Guardian, enabling the Social Welfare Officer of the area to visit the person lying in ‘comatose state’ at random and to submit a report, if so necessitated, calling for further action/interference of this Court.
(XIII) The transactions in respect of the property of the person lying in ‘comatose state’, by the Guardian, shall be strictly in accordance with the relevant provisions of law. If the Guardian appointed is found to be abusing the power or neglects or acts contrary to the best interest of the person lying in ‘comatose state’, any relative or next friend may apply to this Court for removal of such Guardian.
(XIV) The Guardian appointed shall seek and obtain specific permission from this Court, if he/she intends to transfer the person lying in comatose state from the jurisdiction of this Court to another State or Country, whether it be for availing better treatment or otherwise.