Frame policy to rehabilitate mentally ill: SC tells Centre

SansadTV Bureau
File photo of Supreme Court of India.

File photo of Supreme Court of India.

In a significant judicial initiative, the Supreme Court has asked the Central government to frame detailed guidelines for the rehabilitation of persons who have been cured of their mental illness. Observing that the issue was “very sensitive”, the apex court stressed that that they have to be brought back in the society once they fully recover from illness.

A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar observed that after mentally ill persons are cured, not even their family members are willing to take them back home.

“It is a very, very sensitive issue. You (Centre) should apply your mind. When a person goes to a mental asylum and after treatment he is cured, nobody is willing to take him back to home. You (Centre) should think over it,” the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul, said.

The apex court told Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, that the government “cannot allow a person to be kept” in a mental asylum or a nursing home after he or she is fully cured of the ailment.

“They have to be brought back to civil society. You will have to frame a policy,” the bench said. “It is very easily achievable. You give us a model scheme. We will then put it to the state governments and ask them. Give us a scheme,” the CJI-led bench added.

FILE: Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar. Photo - PTI

FILE: Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar.
Photo – PTI

The Solicitor General, however, told the bench that they needed some time as two ministries — Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Justice — were involved in this process.

Asking the government to place before it the guidelines or scheme for its consideration, the apex court gave it eight weeks time.

“The proposal made to the Centre by this court has been tentatively accepted and the Union of India will frame guidelines/scheme for rehabilitation of mentally sick persons, who are in a mental asylum or a nursing home, and have been fully cured after treatment,” the bench said posting the matter for further hearing.

The court order came on a PIL filed by advocate GK Bansal who has 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 belonged to poorer sections.

The plea has also referred to responses received under the RTI with regard to the release of persons living in mental hospitals at Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh even after being cured.

(With inputs from the PTI)