Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ and S. Kumar, J., directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar to take all steps ensuring the establishment of State Mental Health Authority as per Section 45 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.

The object and purpose of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 is to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of such persons during the delivery of mental healthcare.

Chapter VII of the said Act specifically deals with the establishment and composition of the State Authority, to be termed as the “State Mental Health Authority”.

The Bench noted that as per the affidavit of the State, the said authority as referred to above has not yet been constituted.

High Court remarked that,

“It appears that mental health of a person and/or treatment of those who are in need, more so during the time of COVID-19, is the least priority of the State Government.”

Bench noted that the step for establishing the authority commenced in the year 2020, that too, with the publication of an advertisement in the newspaper and since then nothing has been done to expedite the process.

The affidavit filed by the Additional Directors, Health, Bihar Patna has averments as vague as they can be, it does not address the pertinent questions regarding how much time would it take for the establishment, who all are engaged in the selection process and on which stage it is.

Bench added that,

“We only remind the Government that Covid-19 was declared as a ‘Pandemic’ only on 24th of March, 2020 and since then despite the first, the second and the third wave, which fortunately we have been able to overcome despite the adversities; challenges; and the hardships, all institutions/establishments/organs of the State have become fully operational and functional.”

Hence, the Court directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar to forthwith take all the steps ensuring the establishment of the authority as stipulated under Section 45 of the Act and an affidavit be filed with regard to indicating the latest status by the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar before the next date.

Matter to be listed on 25-2-2022. [Akanksha Maviya v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Pat 305, decided on 10-2-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner/s :

Mr. Vishal Kumar Singh, Advocate Mr. Akash Keshav, Advocate

Mr. Deepak Kumar Singh, Advocate Mr. Shashwat, Advocate

For the Respondent/s :

Mr. Dr. K. N. Singh ( ASG )

Mr. S.D. Yadav, AAG-9

Mr. Kumar Priya Ranjan, Advocate

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