Supreme Court shocked at chaining of inmates in U.P. mental asylum

Summons Solicitor-General after a lawyer said shackling them was against Mental Health Act.

January 03, 2019 08:08 pm | Updated 10:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI, 09/08/2013: INDEX-Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. August 09, 2013. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

NEW DELHI, 09/08/2013: INDEX-Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. August 09, 2013. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

A Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta after getting to know that patients in a mental asylum in Badayun district of Uttar Pradesh are kept in chains.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer asked Mr. Mehta to take immediate action, saying “a mentally-ill person is also a human being and has dignity.”

The plight of the inmates in the “faith-based mental asylum” was brought to the court’s attention by lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who said shackling them went against the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2017, and violated their fundamental right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution. He also submitted the photographs of the inmates.

The court said that even if the patients were prone to violence, the answer “is not to keep them chained or even isolated.”

Mr. Mehta said there was no dispute about it.

“This is not only inhuman but also violates the provisions of the law. The issue is of serious concern and requires urgent consideration,” Justice Sikri said, issuing notice to the Centre and all the States on Mr. Bansal’s petition for initiating a programme to provide mental health care and treatment and establishing a State mental health authority and funds as per the Mental Health Act.

The petitioner argued that according to a WHO report, India has the highest prevalence of mental illness globally.

According to the National Mental Health Survey, 2016, around 14% of the population required active mental health interventions and around 2% suffered acute mental disorders. Mr. Bansal said no action was taken by the States and the Union Territories to constitute mental health authorities within nine months of the law coming into force.

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