17 July 2023 8:37 AM GMT
Ruling that the provision under Section 105 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is mandatory in nature, the Delhi High Court has set aside an arrest warrant against a man, who said he is suffering from Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. The warrant had been issued by the court below in an execution petition filed by the man's wife in relation to an order directing...
Ruling that the provision under Section 105 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is mandatory in nature, the Delhi High Court has set aside an arrest warrant against a man, who said he is suffering from Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression.
The warrant had been issued by the court below in an execution petition filed by the man's wife in relation to an order directing him to pay a maintenance of over Rs.1 lakh per month to her and their minor daughter under Domestic Violence Act.
Section 105 of the Act provides that, if during any judicial process before any competent court, proof of mental illness is produced and is challenged by the other party, the Court shall refer the same for further scrutiny to the Mental Health Review Board, and the Board shall, after examination of the person alleged to have a mental illness either by itself or through a committee of experts, submits its opinion to the court.
Justice Amit Sharma said that, “the mandatory nature of the said provision (Section 105) does not leave any discretion with the competent Court, in case such a claim is made during judicial process pending before it. The mandate of the Section is 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 cannot prejudge the said claim before making appropriate directions under the said Section.”
In an application under Section 23 of DV Act, the MM Court had directed the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs. 1,15,000/- per month to his wife and their minor daughter from the date of filing of the petition under Section 12 of the DV Act till its final disposal. The order was challenged by the petitioner in Sessions Court. Later the wife of the petitioner filed an execution petition before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Mahila Court.
On October 22, 2022, the man had moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance in the execution proceedings. He said he has a history of mental illnesses and the court's attention was drawn to Sections 105 and 116 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. The Metropolitan Magistrate on October 28, 2022, issued warrants of arrest against him. His criminal appeal against the Metropolitan Magistrate's order was earlier dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge
Challenging the orders passed by the courts below, the senior counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that the ASJ had ignored the reports of the mental illness issued by a certified psychiatrist.
He further highlighted to the Court that, the ASJ while ignoring the aforesaid documents, passed the order on the basis of a single medical document issued by a Family Physician and Gynaecologist, which was annexed with the application seeking exemption before the Metropolitan Magistrate, wherein it was stated that the petitioner is suffering from acute gastroenteritis with repeated vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and anxiety.
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the wife argued that the plea for exemption has been taken to frustrate her legal right and that of her minor daughter.
Justice Sharma in the verdict said that both the Metropolitan Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge had declined to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 105 of the Act with respect to warrants of arrest against the petitioner.
While analysing the Mental Health Act, the court said the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is a special Act and by virtue of Section 120 of the said Act, the same has been given an overriding effect with respect to any other law for the time being in force.
Further a bare reading of Section 105 of the said Act reflects that the words used in the said Section are “the Court shall refer the same for further scrutiny” which is mandatory in nature, it added.
The Court noted that the documents provided to support the claim of mental illness are from Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Delhi Psychiatry Centre, dated 16.09.2014. “A perusal of the said report reflects that the same was given on the basis of a test conducted from 20th to 23rd August, 2014, and the finding recorded in the said report is that of “Bipolar Affective Disorder, Currently Moderate Depressive Episode,” it said.
Similarly, reports from Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram issued in December, 2022 and January, 2023, reflect that the petitioner is suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder, noted the court.
“Both the learned Metropolitan Magistrate as well as the learned Additional Sessions Judge did not take into account the aforesaid report of CIMBS, dated 16.09.2014, but rather concentrated their finding on medical certificate dated 26.10.2022, issued by Dr. Renuka Chhabra (Family Physician and Gynaecologist), with respect to his health condition of acute gastroenteritis with repeated vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and anxiety annexed with the application moved for exemption on behalf of the petitioner on 28.10.2022,” Justice Sharma said, adding Section 105 of the Act does not lay down any specific requirements of a document indicating a person suffering from mental illness.
The court observed further that Section 105 of the Act creates a right in favor of a person who claims to suffer from mental illness as defined under Section 2(s) of the Act.
Rejecting the contention of the respondent that he did not raise the issue of his mental illness in any other prior proceedings pending before the parties, the court said, “this cannot act as an estoppel with regard to his statutory right as provided for in the said Act.”
The court also clarified that, “Section 3(5) of the said Act states that determination of a person's mental illness alone shall not imply or be assumed that the person is of unsound mind unless he has been declared as such by a competent Court. Thus, determination in terms of Section 105 of the said Act cannot be prejudicial to the interest of respondent.”
Consequently, the order of arrest warrant and order rejecting the appeal filed against it were set aside.
Case Title: X v. Y
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 599
For Petitioner: Senior Advocate Viraj R. Datar with Advocates Kapil Madan, Gurmukh Singh Arora, Saurabh Joon, Manas Sharma, Sahil, Madaan and Aman Garg.
For Respondent: Advocates Rajiv Bajaj, Karan Prakash and Shruti Khosla.
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