Delhi High Court: In a case wherein, the petitioner moved an application seeking exemption from appearing before the Court, wherein it was stated that he had been suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression and anxiety; and had been under regular medical supervision by the concerned doctors, a Single Judge Bench of Amit Sharma, J.* noted that the reports from Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram reflected that the petitioner was suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder and thus, opined that both the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge did not take into account the report of Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences (‘CIMBS’), but rather concentrated their finding on medical certificate issued by a Family Physician and Gynaecologist, with respect to the petitioner’s health condition of acute gastroenteritis with repeated vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and anxiety. Thus, the Court held that determination in terms of Section 105 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (‘2017 Act’) could not be prejudicial to the interest of the respondent. Therefore, the Court allowed the petition and had set aside the orders passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge.
On 31-3-2022, the Metropolitan Magistrate, Mahila Court-05, West District, Tis Hazari Court, in an application under Section 23 of the DV Act directed the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs. 1,15,000 per month to the respondent and their minor daughter from the date of filing of the petition under Section 12 of the DV Act till its final disposal. The said order was challenged by the petitioner before the Sessions Court, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi. The petitioner moved an application seeking exemption on his behalf from appearing before the Court, wherein it was stated that he had been suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression, and anxiety; and had been under regular medical supervision by the concerned doctors.
Further, during arguments, attention of the Court was drawn to Sections 105 and 116 of the 2017 Act. The Metropolitan Magistrate issued warrants of arrest against the petitioner, which was challenged by the petitioner before the Additional Sessions Judge, whereby, the appeal was dismissed. Aggrieved by the orders passed by the Additional Sessions Judge and the Metropolitan Magistrate, the petitioner had preferred the present revision petition.
Submissions on behalf of the Petitioner
It was submitted that as per Section 105 of the 2017 Act if any party produced the documents in regard to mental illness and the other party challenged the same, then as per Section 105, the concerned Court was bound to refer the issue to the concerned medical Board and thereafter the Board itself or through a committee of experts, shall render its opinion to the concerned Court.
Submissions on behalf of the Respondent
It was submitted that reports annexed by the petitioner were brought before the Metropolitan Magistrate, after more than eight years and even the said reports itself stated that the assessment was not conclusive in nature. It was further submitted that the production/procurement of certificates by petitioner could not be used to defeat or frustrate the legal right of respondent and their minor daughter. It was contended that harmonious interpretation between the provisions of DV Act and 2017 Act had to be adopted in the present case.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court relied on Ravinder Kumar Dhariwal v. Union of India, (2023) 2 SCC 209, wherein while dealing with the Indian legal framework regarding issue with mental illness, the Supreme Court observed that “the 2017 Act provided a rights-based framework of mental healthcare and had a truly transformative potential. The 2017 Act was enacted by Parliament in pursuance of India’s obligations under United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘CRPD’), repealing the Mental Health Act, 1987 (‘1987 Act’). In stark difference from the provisions of the 1987 Act, the provisions of the 2017 Act recognised the legal capacity of persons suffering from mental illness to make decisions and choices on treatment, admission, and personal assistance”.
The Court opined that the 2017 Act was a special Act and by virtue of Section 120 of the 2017 Act, the same had been given an overriding effect with respect to any other law for the time being in force. Further, Section 105 of the 2017 Act reflected that the words used in the said Section were “the Court shall refer the same for further scrutiny” which was mandatory in nature.
The Court further opined that “the purpose of Section 105 of the 2017 Act was only with respect to an enquiry with regard to a person alleged to have a mental illness or not. This provision created a statutory right in favour of any person who claimed to have mental illness as provided for under Section 2(s) of the 2017 Act. The mandatory nature of the said provision did not leave any discretion with the competent Court in case such a claim was made during judicial process pending before it. The mandate of the Section was that, in case of such a claim, the competent Court shall refer the same to the concerned Board as provided for in the said Section. The Competent Court could not prejudge the said claim before making appropriate directions under the said Section”.
The Court noted that the petition comprised of reports from various hospitals, and first of such report was from CIMBS, Delhi Psychiatry Centre which reflected the finding that the said report was of “Bipolar Affective Disorder, Currently Moderate Depressive Episode” and reports from Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram reflected that the petitioner was suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder.
The Court opined that both the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge did not consider the aforesaid report of CIMBS, but rather concentrated their finding on medical certificate issued by a Family Physician and Gynaecologist, with respect to the petitioner’s health condition of acute gastroenteritis with repeated vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and anxiety. Moreover, Section 105 of the 2017 Act, did not lay down any specific requirements of a document indicating a person suffering from mental illness.
The Court observed that Section 105 of the said Act dealt with the responsibilities of certain agencies including Police Officers, Magistrates, Prison Officials and State-run Custodial Institution and further obligated those agencies to take certain steps with respect to person regarding whom they have reason to believe, was suffering from mental illness and the said Section created a right in favor of a person who claimed to suffer from mental illness as defined under Section 2(s) of the 2017 Act. The Court further noted that the petitioner claimed to be suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression, and anxiety.
The Court further opined that Section 3(5) of the 2017 Act stated that determination of a person’s mental illness alone shall not imply or be assumed that the person was of unsound mind unless he had been declared as such by a competent Court. Thus, determination in terms of Section 105 of the 2017 Act could not be prejudicial to the interest of the respondent.
Thus, the Court allowed the petition and had set aside the orders passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge.
[Ankur Abbot v. Ekta Abbot, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 4074, decided on 13-7-2023]
*Judgment authored by: Justice Amit Sharma
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Viraj R. Datar, Senior Advocate; Kapil Madan, Gurmukh Singh Arora, Saurabh Joon, Manas Sharma, Sahil Madaan, Aman Garg, Advocates;
For the Respondent: Rajiv Bajaj, Karan Prakash, Shruti Khosla, Advocates.