NEW DELHI: Parliament passed a bill that seeks to decriminalise suicide attempt by mentally ill people and provides for the right to better healthcare for people suffering from mental illness.
‘The Mental Healthcare Bill’ also has a provision to protect and restore the property right of the mentally ill people, Health Minister J P Nadda said in the Lok Sabha, just before it was passed by the House by a voice vote.
All the amendments moved by the opposition members were defeated.
The Rajya Sabha had passed it in August last year with 134 official amendments.
The bill provides for decriminalising suicide attempt by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
It also focusses on community-based treatment and provides for special treatment for women.
The bill seeks to ensure health-care, treatment and rehabilitation of persons with mental illness “in a manner that does not intrude on their rights and dignity.”
While replying to a debate on the bill, Nadda described it as a “patient-centric” measure and said there was a need to empower the patients so that they could secure proper treatment.
The legislation has been brought after wider consultations with the stakeholders, he said.
“There were consultations at the regional level, as well at the Centre. After consultations with the stakeholders the bill was sent to the Standing Committee and post amendments it came to Rajya Sabha.”
Most of the suggestions of the Standing Committee were accepted by the government, the Health Minister said.
Around 29 members participated in the discussion and almost all of them extended support to the bill.
Stating that the 1987 Mental Act was institutionalised, the minister said that in the present bill, instead of the institution, the focus was on the community.
The bill is a “progressive legislation” and intends to take care of everyone in case of any exigency, he said.