The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre, 21 states and Union Territories (UTs) to implement the guidelines on rehabilitation of those who are cured of mental illness but still languishing in asylums due to unwillingness of their families to take them back. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud asked the Union of India, 21 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and some UTs to make sure that the guidelines are implemented within a year and asked them to file a status report with its Registry.
Disposing of a PIL, filed by Delhi-based lawyer Garuav Kumar Bansal, the bench said he could approach it again if the authorities do not implement the guidelines in letter and spirit.
The guidelines, submitted by a committee headed by the Secretary of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, recommended that state governments should take steps to create and manage rehabilitation homes for those discharged from mental asylums and have no place to go.
The guidelines also say that rehabilitation homes should be outside any hospital and the governments should appoint a house in-charge, an office assistant, a social worker, a vocational instructor, two trained care-givers, two helpers, one visiting psychiatrist, one occupational therapist and adequate security, house keeping and kitchen staff per 25 residents. Cultural and sporting activities may be conducted for the residents.
The apex court had on February 22 asked the Centre to frame guidelines or schemes for the rehabilitation of those who have been cured of mental illness, observing that it was a “very sensitive” matter.
The court was hearing a PIL which 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 apex court had earlier favoured framing of a uniform national policy to deal with those suffering from mental illness and their release from hospitals after being cured.
The PIL, filed by advocate G K Bansal, has alleged that many underprivileged persons were still languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured and there was no policy in place to ensure their well-being after release.
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.
The queries, which were posed under transparency law to Mental Health Hospital, Bareilly, Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra and Mental Hospital, Varanasi, pertained to names, residential address and age of the patients who were now normal and waiting for discharge from these hospitals.
The plea has sought issuance of directions to states and others to “forthwith make arrangements to shift the patients, who are absolutely normal and are fit for discharge, from the mental hospitals to any other secure place like Old Age Homes etc.”