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"Mental Health Least Priority Of Bihar Govt": Patna High Court Directs Establishment Of 'State Mental Health Authority'

Sparsh Upadhyay
11 Feb 2022 1:38 PM GMT
Mental Health Least Priority Of Bihar Govt: Patna High Court Directs Establishment Of State Mental Health Authority
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The Patna High Court has directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar, to forthwith take all steps ensuring the establishment of the State Mental Health Authority as stipulated under Section-45 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.In a strongly worded order, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar also observed that the mental health of a person...

The Patna High Court has directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar, to forthwith take all steps ensuring the establishment of the State Mental Health Authority as stipulated under Section-45 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.

In a strongly worded order, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar also observed that the mental health of a person and/or treatment of those who are in need, more so during the time of Covid-19, is the least priority of the State Government

The Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) moved by the party-in-person Akanksha Malviya petition filed alleging that the Bihar Government had categorically failed to provide for and meet the needs of the people with their rights as regards to mental health and that this was a gross violation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

The plea has prayed for a direction to the Respondents to establish a legitimate and functional State Mental Health Authority in adherence with Section 45 and Section 55 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

On February 10, the Patna High Court analyzed the object and purpose of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 along with the functions of the State Mental Health Authority, and further, expressed shock over the affidavit filed by the State stating that the said authority had yet not been constituted. 

Further, the Court underlined that the purpose behind the enactment is to provide mental healthcare and services to persons in need whose mental condition stands determined in terms of Chapter II of the Act.

Referring to the affidavit of the State Government, the Court also noticed that the step for establishing the authority commenced only in the year 2020, that too, with the publication of an advertisement in the newspaper, and since then nothing has been done to expedite the process.

The Court also noted that even the affidavit filed does not disclose the time-limit within which such process would be completed.

"It is only averred that 'applications were received under the above-mentioned advertisements and the same are under consideration, but due to Covid-19 Pandemic effect, the same are still in the process of finalization. What is that stage? How much time it would take to complete? Who all are engaged in the selection process? are all questions left to be answered by ones own imagination," the Court further added.

Lastly, issuing the direction as aforesaid, the Court sought for an affidavit of compliance indicating the latest status, from the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar, before the next date.

The Court also sought details of steps taken for complying with the other provisions of the Statute; the deficiencies pointed out by the petitioner in the writ petition; and the suggestion given for proper and effective implementation on an expeditious basis.

With this, the matter has been posted for further hearing on February 25, 2022. Advocates Vishal Kumar Singh, Akash Keshav, Deepak Kumar Singh, and Shashwat appeared for the petitioner.

Case title - Akanksha Maviya v. The Union of India & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Pat) 4

Click here To Read/Download Order

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