People with intellectual disabilities of age over 18 to be considered as "Children"

Iam a senior legal practitioner in India and now fighting a case in high courts for a community cause to declare that people with intellectual disabilities are to considered to be “Children” even if their Biological age is more than 18 years. Pls support with the opinions and Case-Laws in your country, which will be useful for me.

My main contention is that people with intellectual disabilities cannot be equated with the normal adult persons, and ID person may have the body mass, weight and height which will be matching the chronological age or biological age of 30 years, but in reality behaves like a child of 8 to 10 years, for the mental age, as it is called, stops progressing…your views and comments please.


This sounds interesting and may generate a lot of debate among among mental health self-advocates. How did it go? I can see you shared this some time back.

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Thanks for your comments. I heard about some case law which came-up in South Africa some years back. Do you have any idea??

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Very interesting. Is there any case before in your region with that circumstances?. How the law define Children in your region?.To my view will not be children except there are some matters won’t be included legally.

Iam relying on a judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in re: Ms. Eera Through Dr. Manjula vs. State (Govt. Of NCT Of Delhi) on 21 July, 2017 CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1217¬1219 OF 2017 [Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) Nos. 2640¬2642 of 2016] in which the pivotal issue that emanated for consideration pertains to interpretation of Section 2(d) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (for short, “the POCSO Act”), and that the definition in Section 2(d) that defines “child” to mean any person below the age of 18 years, should engulf and embrace, in its connotative expanse, the “mental age” of a person or the age determined by the prevalent science pertaining to psychiatry so that a mentally retarded person or an extremely intellectually challenged person who even has crossed the biological age of 18 years can be included within the holistic conception of the term “child”. However, this case before Hon’ble Supreme Court was pronounced judgment after the death of prosecutrix (Mental Retarded).

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I am in support of the contention. In Malawi when does injustices to children it is government which stand in the place of children. For instance, in sexual defilement cases of minors the offender faces government and not the child. There have been situation when parents of the minors has tried to withdraw the cases from courts but it has not been legally possible. The state continues to pursue the case because it is the offended party. I believe the main reason is that children can not make decisions on their - be it those with parents or orphans.The same should apply to any person with persons with mental disabilities. As they can not make proper decisions on their own nor defend themselves it is better that they are in the category of children

Hello Ramesh,

I will check with my colleagues in South Africa if they know about it.


@Ramesh the idea is good and I like it, but I think it is better we say, that he/she is considered as a Child"ONLY WITHIN THE PERIOD OF ILLNESS" otherwise if the Law is ticked/passed as we like, and the patient gets Healed, we cannot consider him as a Child anymore. THANK YOU.

Ahmed, my interest is related to “Mental Retarded persons” (Intellectual Disabled) but not relating to “Mental Illness Persons”. As you say “Mental Illness” can be cured but not “Mental Retarded”.

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