Mane’s mental health: Argument rages on

All arguments in Santosh Mane case — the trial of which is currently under way — revolves around one question: Was Mane suffering from any mental illness when he committed the act on January 25, 2012?

Arguing before the district judge, the prosecution has tried to convince the court that Mane wasn't suffering from "any serious illness" at the time of the incident. On the other hand, the defence lawyer, in his bid to prove that "Mane was in an unsound state of mind", has alleged that the police pressurised the Regional Mental Hospital, Yerawada, to submit a "false" report and "suppressed" another report filed by the Sassoon General Hospital psychiatrist, which "recorded signs of mental sickness".

The Sassoon report, which the defence lawyer refers to, was a case paper prepared by a senior psychiatrist at 2 pm on January 25, the day of the incident. It records that the "patient reports to have illusions and hallucinations", "reports to hear voices" and "reports that he doesn't understood anything when he committed the act".

The other report, prepared by four senior psychiatrists from the Regional Mental Hospital, Yerawada, on February 6, 2012 — 10 days later — does not give a clear picture on Mane's mental health. On one hand, it says the findings and observations about the accused are not sufficient to conclude that Mane suffers from any serious mental illness, but at the same time the doctors do not rule out the possibility of a psychiatric illness. "During observation period from 28.01.12 to 6.02.12, serial mental status examinations conducted by a panel of psychiatrists, (and) facts communicated by ward staff and psychometric evaluation findings, in our opinion, are not sufficient to diagnose a major psychiatric illness at present," the report reads.

But it adds: "...taking into consideration the following facts: 1) Past history of psychiatric illness and treatment taken (as informed by patient); 2) findings of psychiatric evaluation on the day of incident, done by lecturer, department of psychiatry, B J Medical College, and on Day Three of incident done by on-duty psychiatrist and superintendent of Regional Mental Hospital, Pune; and 3) inconsistent psychotic symptoms reported by patient, on serial MSEs (mental status examinations), the possibility of psychiatric illness cannot be ruled out."

The defence lawyer has also alleged that though the police had obtained a statement from Solapur-based psychiatrist Dr Dilip Burate, who reportedly treated Mane in 2010, was also suppressed by the police as it did not support their argument. The police have denied all these allegations.

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