Delhi High Court (File photo)
Delhi High Court (File photo)

PIL seeks court directive to Delhi govt to constitute State Mental Health Authority

ANI | Updated: Jun 28, 2019 18:02 IST

New Delhi [India], Jun 28 (ANI): A petition was moved in Delhi High Court on Friday seeking its direction to Delhi government to constitute the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) and mental health review boards for district or group of districts and to enforce the provisions of Mental Health Care Act, 2017 with immediate effect.
The PIL by social activist and advocate Amit Sahni raised the issue with concerns for rights of mental health patients, which is likely to come for hearing in the coming week.
The petition stated that according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime.
It mentioned that most people who experience mental health problems recover fully, or are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get appropriate treatment. Due to the social stigma attached to mental ill-health, people with mental health problems experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives. Many problems faced by people are made worse by the stigma and discrimination they experience - not only from society but also from families, friends and employers.
Considering issues related to mental illness, the Mental Health Care Act 2017 was passed on April 7, 2017, which came into force w.e.f May 29, 2018, thereby superseding the previously existing Mental Health Act, 1987.
It further stated that mental illness be determined "in accordance with nationally and internationally accepted medical standards (including the latest edition of the International Classification of Disease of the World Health Organisation) as may be notified by the Central Government." Additionally, the Act asserts that no person or authority shall classify an individual as a person with mental illness unless indirectly in relation to the treatment of the illness.
The act effectively decriminalised attempted suicide which was punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Section 33 and Section 45 of the Act mandates for the establishment of Central Mental Health Authority and State Mental health Authority respectively, within nine months from the date on which the Act receives the accent of the President of India.
Even after lapse of a considerable period of time, respondent number 1 has failed to constitute the State Mental Health Authority and the old authority as constituted under the previous Mental Health Act, 1987, is being continued as an interim measure only as per section 126(2)(b) of the Mental Healthcare Act.
As a direct consequence of non-constitution of SMHA, the Mental Health Review Boards, which are required to be constituted for a district or group of the district, have also not been constituted so far. (ANI)