Karnataka HC dismisses PIL against Closure Of Nimhans OPD amid COVID outbreak
"Every institution is working under constraints. Don't make irresponsible statements. In the main PIL, we have noted the work done by NIMHANS. The director of NIMHANS appeared before us through video conferencing and work done by NIMHANS during the period of lockdown has been appreciated."- The court stated
Karnataka: The Karnataka High court has dismissed a petition against the premier National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), stating that its OPD remained closed against government guidelines. The court did not find the petition to be valid and stated that NIMHANS is not guilty of transgressing the guidelines while stating not to make 'irresponsible statements'.
The petition was filed by advocate Jay Datt Bhatt who submitted that according to the order issued by the Union Ministry of home affairs, as a measure of ensuring proper healthcare availability during the pandemic, it has clearly been instructed that all the health Institutions should remain functional at all costs, yet the OPD of NIMHANS remained closed.
Taking note of the same, the high court of Karnataka had issued a notice against the closure of the outpatient department of the Nimhans, Bengaluru that bars the mentally ill patients from accessing medical help and assistance. NIMHANS reportedly has stopped functioning for more than 2 months now which clearly falls in the status of denial of services and is an infraction to the purpose of the mental Healthcare act 2017.
The petitioner advocate submitted that according to the guidelines of the central government Telemedication is also acceptable if the practitioner is a registered doctor. But no such initiative has been taken by NIMHANS. The petitioner stated in his plea
"Telemedicine Practice Guidelines were issued by MOH&FW, Govt. of India Enabling Registered Medical Practitioners to Provide Healthcare Using Telemedicine "Psychiatrist", but surprisingly the mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers were excluded from the telemedicine Guidelines".
The petitioner also enraged by this discrepancy against mental patients to have affordable and quality treatment stated that persons with mental illness also should be included in disaster management activities. Upon the following observations advocate, Datt invoked the Mental Health Care Act,2017, and Disability Act,2016 to seek justice for the mental patients who are not receiving 'equal' importance as those patients who have a physical illness.
The petitioner sought that the telemedicine practice issued by the government of India, which enables all registered medical practitioners to provide healthcare using telemedicine including mental professionals should be immediately adopted by NIMHANS, and it should also ensure the rights of persons with mental illness to access mental health care and treatment at an affordable cost under a person with disability act 2016.
Examining the petition, a bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice M Nagaprasanna observed;
"Every institution is working under constraints. Don't make irresponsible statements. In the main PIL, we have noted the work done by NIMHANS. The director of NIMHANS appeared before us through video conferencing and work done by NIMHANS during the period of lockdown has been appreciated."
"It will be open for the petitioner to make representation to the authority who has drafted the guidelines. it is obvious that if such a representation has made concerned authority will take a decision on the same''