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For enforcement of mental health care law, plea filed in Delhi HC

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Delhi, July 01: A PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court, seeking direction to the Delhi government to enforce the provisions of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 with immediate effect.

The plea is listed for hearing on Monday before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar.

For enforcement of mental health care law, plea filed in Delhi HC

The plea said the object of the Act is to provide mental health care and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of such persons during delivery of the care and services.

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Petitioner advocate and social activist Amit Sahni sought a direction to the Delhi government to constitute a State Mental Health Authority and District Mental Health Review Boards and to enforce the provisions of the Act 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 social stigma attached to mental ill-health, people with mental health problems can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives," the petition said.

It added that for many, problems worsen because of the stigma and the discrimination they face not only from the society, but also from families, friends and employers.

Considering such issues related to mental illness, the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 was passed on April 7, 2017 which came into force on May 29, 2018 by superseding the previously existing Mental Health Act, 1987.

The plea said section 73 of the Act mandates that the 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 lapse of a considerable period of time, the Delhi government has failed to constitute the State Mental Health Authority and the old authority, as constituted under the previous Act of 1987, is being continued as an interim measure, it claimed.

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The plea said a person with mental illness is entitled to receive free legal services to exercise his rights under the Act but no programme has been started by the Delhi State Legal Service Authority in this regard.

A policy action plan needs to be chalked out by the Delhi State Legal Service Authority and sensitisation programme of magistrates, police officers and persons in charge of custodial institutions conducted, it added.

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