The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Mumbai Police to trace the whereabouts of an elderly woman patient with Alzheimer's decease, who went missing from Kherwadi Police Station in the city in February this year.

Terming it as a "shocking case" of police insensitivity, a Vacation Bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Milind Jadhav also directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the duty officer of Kherwadi Police Station, and several other police officers concerned to file their respective affidavits explaining how the 71-year-old woman, Uma Sarkar, managed to leave the police station unattended.

The Bench was hearing a plea filed by Sarkar's two sons, seeking action against the State of Maharashtra through officers of the Thane and the Kherwadi police.

As per their plea, Sarkar, a former Air India employee went missing from her residence in the Kasarvadavli area in Thane district on February 13, 2021. Her family registered a missing person report with the local police the next day.

On February 16, Sarkar was found in Kherwadi area in Bandra East and was brought to the Kherwadi Police Station.

As per the police's own record, Sarkar was brought to the Kherwadi Police Station at around 10 am that day and she stayed there till 8 pm. She was examined by a doctor while at the police station and the police realised that Sarkar possibly suffered from dementia or some form of memory loss as she was unable to recall her address. She merely kept saying "Air India", the police told the High Court.

However, around 8 pm the same day, Sarkar left the police station unattended and hasn't been found since, the police told the High Court.

The High Court Bench, however, questioned how the police let Sarkar leave despite knowing that she suffered from dementia.

"The officials at the police station, who were aware that the said lady is suffering from dementia, instead of taking utmost care of her whilst she was in their custody, did not pay attention to her movements because of which she left the police station," the High Court said.

"This negligent attitude on the part of the police is unpardonable," it said.

The Court further asked why the police did not act immediately after realising that Sarkar had left the police station.

"We fail to understand as to why the police officials were not in a position to immediately trace the whereabouts of the said lady who was not only a senior citizen, but was also in a frail and undernourished condition," the High Court said.

"This is a shocking case of police insensitivity," it said.

The Court directed the city police to "leave no stone unturned" in tracing Sarkar's whereabouts. It directed them to circulate Sarkar's photographs at all police stations across the State, and at hospitals, mental asylums, old age homes, morgues, etc.

With PTI Inputs