The High Court of Karnataka has issued notice on a PIL filed against closure of OP Department of premier mental health institution, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (Nimhans), Bengaluru.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Adbhay Srinivas Oka and Justice Nataraja Rangaswamy has issued notice returnable by July 15.
The plea has been filed by Advocate Jay Datt Bhatt stating that the Orders issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for ensuring social distancing clearly state that Hospital & all related Medical establishments will remain functional. However, closure of OPD in Nimhans for 2 months has defeated the object of enactment of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
The Petitioner is also aggrieved by exclusion of Mental Health Professionals from the practice of 'Telemedicine'.
"Telemedicine Practice Guidelines were issued by MOH&FW, Govt. of India Enabling Registered Medical Practitioners to Provide Healthcare Using Telemedicine "Psychiatrist", but surprisingly the Mental Health Professionals namely Clinical Psychologist, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers were excluded from the telemedicine Guidelines," the plea states.
It is contended that such action has violated the Rights of Persons with Mental Illness particularly their Right to access mental healthcare, mental health services of affordable cost, of good quality, available in sufficient quantity, accessible geographically, without discrimination.
Inter alia the plea states that closure of OPDs for mentally ill persons violates their right to be treated as "equal" to person with physical illness. "NDMA & SDMA has duty to ensure inclusion of person with disabilities in its disaster management activities," the Petitioner added.
On the basis of these grounds the Petitioner has sought the following reliefs:
In the interim, the Petitioner has sought forthwith resumption of OPDs and a direction upon the Central Mental Health Authority to inquire into the incident and take corrective steps.