NEW DELHI: Supreme Court favoured framing of a uniform national policy to deal with those suffering from mental illness and their release from hospitals after being cured.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar issued notice to the Union Health Ministry saying the issue figured in the concurrent list of the Constitution and hence the Centre also has the authority to frame norms.
The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, expanded the scope of a PIL filed by advocate G K Bansal and sought responses from all states and union territories (UTs).
The PIL has raised the issue of release of about 300 persons from various mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, alleging they were still languishing there despite being cured of their ailments and most of them belonging to poorer sections.
“We are of the considered view that the Union of India shall assist us in finalising a national policy or norms that should be adopted in the entire country to deal with persons who have been cured of mental illness and are still being kept in mental hospitals,” the bench said.
“There should be a national policy which can be applied uniformly across the country,” the bench said, asking the lawyer to ensure that the Centre and others are served with the court notice in the matter.
Earlier, the court had issued notices to six states on the PIL seeking release of over 300 cured persons still languishing in mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh.
States like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Meghalaya were asked to respond on why the people, who are now fit for discharge from mental hospitals, were still kept there.
The PIL has alleged that many underprivileged persons were still languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured and there was no policy in place to ensure their well-being after release.
The plea also referred to responses received under RTI with regard to the release of persons living in mental hospitals at Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh even after being cured.
The queries, which were posed under transparency law to Mental Health Hospital, Bareilly, Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra and Mental Hospital, Varanasi, pertained to names, residential address and age of the patients who were now normal and waiting for discharge from these hospitals.
Bansal had also sought information about the year in which the patients were declared fit for discharge.
The plea had sought issuance of directions to states and others to “forthwith make arrangements to shift the patients, who are absolutely normal and are fit for discharge, from the mental hospitals to any other secure place like Old Age Homes etc.”