I am a caregiver to an 85-year-old bedridden Alzheimer’s patient who has over Rs1.5 crore saved in a bank and a mutual fund in her name. The power of attorney is given to her daughter. The patient’s doctor has given a certificate that she’s not mentally sound to sign any documents and her thumb impression should be accepted. The bank refuses to allow me or her daughter as a power of attorney-holder to withdraw money for the patient’s treatment. I feel this is denial of basic rights. What should I do now?
—Name withheld on request
Yes, you may be right in your part to conclude that there is a violation of the fundamental right by virtue of which things are at a standstill. You will have to appreciate the fact that the bankers are accountable for managing the public funds and are governed under the Banking Regulation Act. Corporate governance mandates following certain norms, so that there are no fraudulent transactions.
What one can do in such exigency is to make an application before the high court or the court having the competent jurisdiction for declaring that the daughter of the bedridden Alzheimer’s patient or you (as the caretaker) be the guardian of the patient, who is unable to do anything on account of him/her being bedridden for Alzheimer’s which the patient is suffering from.
There are judgments passed by the courts similar to the one in hand, where family members have applied to become the guardians of their respective family members (usually daughter/sons/father/husband/wife) who were in a comatose condition or in a condition unable to do anything. The courts usually seek an independent medical report along with the reports of the medical practitioner who is handling the patient’s case. After fully convincing itself of the medical condition, the high court may become convinced that the case is a fit one to grant a writ in the nature of mandamus to the applicant to be the guardian of the patient.
These matters are taken up in a fast track manner and the courts are usually sympathetic and empathetic towards the patient and the applicant.
Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates.