Mak­ing man­agers ac­count­able

In part 2 of our se­ries on the men­tally chal­lenged, find out how courts keep an eye on their as­sets

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Su­nil Tyagi ■ ht­es­tates@hin­dus­tan­times.com

LE­GAL REME­DIES

The pre­vi­ous col­umn out­lined the back­ground and scope of the Men­tal Health Act with re­spect to tak­ing care of the es­tate of a per­son who is men­tally ill. As dis­cussed ear­lier, on re­ceiv­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion from any of the rel­a­tives of the per­son al­legedly suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness, the dis­trict court starts an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to as­sess the men­tal health of the per­son con­cerned. Upon ver­i­fi­ca­tion that the per­son is ac­tu­ally men­tally chal­lenged, the dis­trict court ap­points a per­son to man­age the prop­er­ties be­long­ing to him or her. There are, how­ever, a num­ber of ques­tions about the pow­ers of the man­ager so ap­pointed by the court and its duty to­wards the man­age­ment of the prop­erty of the men­tally chal­lenged owner.

Each per­son ap­pointed as the man­ager is re­quired to fur­nish a bond, the sum of which is spec­i­fied by the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity. Fur­ther­more, a man­ager may be di­rected by the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity to fur­nish sureties too. This is done to safe­guard the in­ter­est of the owner and to make the man­ager ac­count­able for all re­ceipts from the prop­erty.

It is clear from the Act as well as from var­i­ous de­ci­sions of the courts in this re­gard that any trans­ac­tion with re­spect to the prop­erty of the men­tally chal­lenged per­son must be for his or her ben­e­fit.

The man­ager must make an ap­pli­ca­tion to the dis­trict court in or­der to seek prior per­mis- sion of the court be­fore he cre­ates any charge or mort­gage or trans­fers of such prop­erty by sale or any other means. The court may grant him per­mis­sion and may also im­pose con­di­tions or re­stric­tions for the same. The man­ager is bound to com­ply with the di­rec­tions of the court as any act against such di­rec­tions/ con­di­tions/ re­stric­tions would be an act against the au­thor­ity of court and the man­ager would be guilty of con­tempt of court.

The courts take ut­most care to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of men­tally chal­lenged peo­ple. The man­ager has to fur­nish in­ven­tory and an­nual ac­counts in re­spect of the prop­erty in ques­tion to the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity. If any rel­a­tive of the men­tally chal­lenged per­son, or the col­lec­tor points a fin­ger at the ac­cu­racy of such in­ven­tory or state­ment or an­nual ac­counts, by the way of mak­ing a pe­ti­tion to the dis­trict court then the court may sum­mon the man­ager and en­quire sum­mar­ily about it. The court may fur­ther use its dis­cre­tion to make such or­der as it thinks fit and/or can also re­fer the pe­ti­tion to its sub­or­di­nate court.

The man­ager, there­fore, would be fac­ing pro­ceed­ings if the ac­cu­racy of in­ven­tory or ac­counts is du­bi­ous and is ques­tioned in the court of law.

The Act makes fur­ther pro­vi­sions to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of the men­tally ill per­son. There is a re­stric­tion on the sums which are re­ceived by the man­ager for the es­tate. All the money re­ceived by the man­ager which is in ex­cess of the amount re­quired for ex­penses of the men­tally chal­lenged ill per­son or for man­ag­ing his prop­er­ties are to be de­posited in the public trea­sury or are to be in­vested in the man­ner as di­rected by the court.

Any rel­a­tive of the men­tally chal­lenged ill per­son af­ter ob­tain­ing per­mis­sion of the court can sue for an ac­count from any man­ager ap­pointed by the court. The man­ager has to pro­vide ac­counts for the prop­erty un­der his man­age­ment or any other prop­erty re­ceived by him in lieu of the prop­erty that be­longed to the men­tally ill per­son. The court may also re­move the man­ager ap­pointed by him.

The au­thor is a se­nior part­ner at Zeus Law, a cor­po­rate com­mer­cial law firm. One of its ar­eas of spe­cial­i­sa­tions is real es­tate trans­ac­tional and lit­i­ga­tion work. If you have any queries, email us at ht@ zeus.firm.in and ht­es­tates@ hin­dus­tan­times.com

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