Manipur High Court: A Division Bench of Ramalingam Sudhakar, CJ and Kh. Nobin Singh, J., addressed a Public Interest Litigation concerning the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act in the State of Manipur.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

The instant PIL was filed by a senior citizen with regard to non-implementation of the Mental Health Act, 1987 and the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 causing hardship to the mentally challenged persons of the State of Manipur.

Object of the Mental Healthcare Act

To provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides for treatment, health care and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of mentally ill persons.

Petitioner’s Plea

Petitioner states that the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 have not been implemented in letter and spirit.

Violation of fundamental rights 

Further, the non-establishment of the psychiatric hospital and nursing home in the State of Manipur has put the mentally ill persons to great hardship and their fundamental rights are violated.

Since the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 specifically enjoins the Central Government and the State Government to provide mental health care by establishing mental health establishments, the present PIL has been filed.

Bench cited the Supreme Court decision in Death of 25 Chained Inmates in Asylum Fire in Tamil Nadu, In Re. v. Union of India, (2002) 3 SCC 31, wherein the scope of Mental Health Act 1987 was discussed as it was in enforced then.

In the above-cited decision, certain directions to the Centre and the State Government were given and in the subsequent order dated 12-04-2002, Supreme Court had issued directions in the following manner:

“4. Further Union of India is directed –

a) To frame a Policy and initiate steps for establishment of at least one Central Government-run Mental Health Hospital in each State (As provided under Section 5 of the Act).

b) To examine the feasibility of formulating uniform rules regarding standard of services for both public and private sector Mental Institutes;

c) To constitute a committee to give recommendations on the issue of care of mentally challenged persons who have no immediate relatives or who have been abandoned by relatives.

d) To frame norms for Non-Government Organisations working in the field of Mental health and to ensure that services rendered by them are supervised by qualified/ trained persons.

5. All-State Governments are also directed to frame Policy and initiate steps for establishment of at least one State Government-run Mental Health Hospital in each State. It is clarified that a Mental Health Hospital as stated above means a full-fledged Hospital catering only to mentally challenged persons and does not include a separate psychiatric ward in a Medical College or Government Hospital.”

Hence, Court directed the State Government to strictly implement all the provisions of the new Act within a period of 6 months.

It is for the State Government to work out the modality for financing the establishment of the psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes.

In view of the above, PIL was disposed of. [Maibam Jatsiwor Singh v. State of Manipur, PIL No. 12 of 2018, decided on 01-09-2020]

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