The Central government, states and Union Territories have been asked by the Supreme Court to implement the guidelines on rehabilitation of those who are cured of mental illness but still languishing in asylums due to unwillingness of their families to take them back.
“It may be implemented within a year and a status report filed wIth the registry”,a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
“State governments should take steps to create and manage rehabilitation homes for those discharged from mental asylums and have no place to go”, Guidelines, submitted by a committee headed by the Secretary of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, recommended.
“Rehabilitation homes should be outside any hospital and the governments should appoint a house in-charge, an office assistant, a social worker, a vocational instructor, two trained care-givers, two helpers, one visiting psychiatrist, one occupational therapist and adequate security, housekeeping and kitchen staff per 25 residents. Cultural and sporting activities may be conducted for the residents”, it said.
The court had in February this year asked the Centre to frame a uniform national policy to deal with those suffering from mental illness and their release from hospitals after being cured saying the issue figured in the concurrent list of the Constitution and hence the union government also has the authority to frame norms.
WHAT PIL SAID
The PIL had raised the issue of release of about 300 persons from various mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, alleging they were still languishing there despite being cured of their ailments and most of them belonging to poorer sections.
There should be a national policy which can be applied uniformly across the country, the bench said, asking the lawyer to ensure that the Centre and others are served with the court notice in the matter.
On June 18 last year the Supreme Court issued notices to six states on the petition seeking release of nearly 300 persons, who are still languishing in mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, some of them for several years, despite being cured of their ailments.
At the inception, a bench headed by then Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar had issued notices to Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Meghalaya on a PIL seeking release of persons, who are now fit for discharge from mental hospitals and steps to ensure their social security post-discharge.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who has filed the PIL in his personal capacity, said underprivileged persons are still languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured of their ailments and there was no policy in place to ensure their well being after the release.
The plea also referred to responses received under RTI with regard to release of persons who are languishing in mental hospitals at Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh even after being cured from their ailments.
The queries, which were posed under transparency law to Mental Health Hospital, Bareilly, Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra and Mental Hospital, Varanasi, pertained to names, residential address and age of the patients who are now normal and waiting for their discharge from hospitals.
Bansal had also sought information about the year in which the patients were declared fit for the discharge. The plea has sought issuance of directions to the states and others to forthwith make arrangements to shift the patients, who are absolutely normal and are fit for discharge, from the mental hospitals to any other secure place like Old Age Home etc. Issue appropriate Writ/Orders/Directions to the respondents to formulate effective and proper guidelines for the relief and rehabilitation of such normal female and male patients, it said.