New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday sought responses of the AAP government and police on a plea seeking enforcement of provisions of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, with immediate effect. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Delhi government and Delhi Police and asked them to file their replies within four weeks.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on September 11 after additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan, representing the government and police, sought time to seek instructions and file a reply.
The plea said the object of the Act is to provide mental healthcare and services to persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of such persons during delivery of care and services.
Petitioner advocate and social activist Amit Sahni has sought a direction to the Delhi government to constitute a state mental health authority and district mental health review boards, and that the provisions of the Act be enforced with immediate effect.
“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 can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives,” the petition said.
For many, problems worsen because of the stigma and they face discrimination not only from society but also from families, friends and employers, it said.
Considering that such issues are related to mental illness, the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, was passed on April 7, 2017, and it came into force on May 29, 2018, by superseding the Mental Health Act, 1987.
The plea said section 73 of the Act mandates that a state mental health authority shall by notification constitute mental health review boards for a district or a group of districts under the new Act.
However, even after the lapse of a considerable period of time, the Delhi government has failed to constitute a state mental health authority and the old authority, as constituted under the previous Act of 1987, is being continued as an interim measure, it has claimed.
The plea has said a person with mental illness is entitled to receive free legal services to exercise rights under the Act, but no programme has been started by the Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA) in this regard.
A policy action plan needs to be chalked out by the DSLSA and sensitisation programme of magistrates, police officers and persons in charge of custodial institutions conducted, it has added.