The Uttarakhand High Court on Friday directed the State to formulate a comprehensive policy for rehabilitation of mentally ill children and patients.
While issuing a slew of directions, the Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma also asked the State to ensure that they are not treated by Tantrics and quacks. Besides, it also directed the State to gather Epidemiological Survey Data on mentally ill children through National Institute of Mental Help and Neurosciences, Bangalore (Karnataka) within six months.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Dr. Vijay Verma, who had highlighted the plight of mentally ill children, and the failure of the State Government in formulating a policy for their welfare.
At the outset, taking note of the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and the current steps being taken by the authorities for the welfare of mentally ill children, the Court emphasized on the importance of comfortable and safe environment for them. It observed,
"Every person with mental illness is entitled to clean, safe and hygienic environment, adequate sanitary conditions, reasonable facilities for leisure, recreation, education and religious practices, food, proper clothing to protect such person from exposure of his body to maintain his dignity, and not be subjected to compulsory tonsuring (shaving of head hair), to be protected from all forms of physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse in any mental health establishments run by the State and granted permission by any private institution provided approval by it."
The Court went on to specifically take note of two cases where minor disabled children were kept chained by their parents due to lack of resources to take care of them. Sympathizing with the children as well as the parents, it opined that the family of mentally ill children remain under immense stress and strain.
It then noted the importance of endowing "constant love, care, passion and compassion" on such children, and highlighted the role of the society in aiding the growth and development of such children, while ensuring that they are treated humanely. It observed,
"The mentally disturbed children/patients have a fundamental right to privacy, dignity, self-respect, self-preservation, access to quality mental health care and sustenance. The Society should make sincere endeavor to assimilate/integrate the persons who are mentally disturbed in the society. All of us must provide due care and protection to mentally disturbed persons, since it is difficult for them to take decisions of their own. The role of the society is to make an endeavor to protect the rights of mentally disturbed children as guardians and custodians."
Thereafter, the Court disposed of the Petition with the following directions:
Unchain mentally ill children
Rs. 50,000 compensation and Rs. 5,000 monthly payment to such chained children
Comprehensive policy for such children
Survey within six months
Setting up of Centre for Human Rights, Ethics, Law and Mental Health
Authorities under the Act
Directions for the State Government under the Act
No electro-convulsive therapy
Mentally ill prisoners/ inmates
Duties of police officers
Policy in six months