GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2017 by Studio Nilima on behalf of mentally ill inmates of correctional homes in the state, today noted that mandatory statutory provisions have not been complied with in the State of Assam.
As an interim measure, a two-bench panel comprising Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Manash Ranjan Pathak, has directed the constitution of State Mental Health Review Boards within a period of 45 days.
The Court has further directed that the Boards after the constitution, will visit the correctional homes and submit detailed reports to the Court for further monitoring.
Today, the Court heard N. Dutta, senior counsel, assisted by R.S. Chowdhury, representing the petitioners, who raised concern about patients with mental illness, who are presently lodged in different prisons in the state.
Today, during the course of the hearing, Dutta apprised this Court as to the many of the mandatory provisions under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) not being followed as yet.
To give an example Section 73 of the Act casts a duty upon the “State Authority” to notify the constitution of Boards, which are to be called “Mental Health Review Boards” for the purposes of this Act. Sub-Section (2) of Section 73 of the Act prescribes that the requisite number of Boards and their location shall be determined through consultation between the State Authority and the State Government.
This has not been done so far, although this Court has been informed that the “State Authority”, which is defined under Section 45 of the Act, has already been constituted.
In reply, D. Saikia, representing the Government of Assam, said that the consultation is already on for constitution of a Board as envisaged under Section 73 of the Act, and Boards will be constituted shortly.
"All the same, since this is the mandate of the law, we direct the State Government to constitute and notify as many Boards as are presently required, as provided under Section 73 of the Act," the Gauhati HC said.
"Let this be done as early as possible but definitely within forty-five days from today. We also direct that the Board so constituted shall immediately inspect the concerned prisons, which are under their jurisdiction and bring a report before this Court as to the conditions of mental patients and the service and care provided to these mental patients in such jails," the Court further added.
Meanwhile, A.D. Choudhury has been appointed as Amicus Curiae by the Court and has filed a report, which is a report submitted by various District Legal Services authorities regarding the inspections made in various jails and the conditions of the mental patients therein.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today