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Are facilities set up in Maharashtra to rehabilitate mentally-ill persons not requiring institutional treatment, asks HC

The bench, on July 6, passed an order on a writ petition filed by a senior citizen who suffers from old-age ailments and mental illness, seeking provision of free healthcare treatment for his ailments and also rehabilitation in a suitable old age home established and maintained by the state government.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: July 11, 2021 8:10:22 am
Mumbai man gets 7 years in jail for robbing senior citizensA sessions court on Tuesday sentenced a man to seven years in jail for robbing a senior citizen couple, who had hired him as a nursing caretaker at Khar in Mumbai in 2014.(Representational Image)

The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to inform whether it has set up facilities such as “halfway homes or group homes” for rehabilitating mentally-ill persons, who no longer require treatment in “more restrictive mental health establishments,” but would still require some form of “psychiatric maintenance.”

A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Madhav J Jamdar, on July 6, passed an order on a writ petition filed by a senior citizen who suffers from old-age ailments and mental illness, seeking provision of free healthcare treatment for his ailments and also rehabilitation in a suitable old age home established and maintained by the state government.

On June 10, the high court was informed by advocate Jai Kanade, appearing as a legal aid counsel for the petitioner, that he had been admitted as an indoor patient in the Regional Mental Hospital, Thane, under the Mental Healthcare Act, while such an admission would continue up to 30 days and can be extended further depending on the hospital’s report. The court had asked the hospital to make a report and consider further indoor treatment for the petitioner till next hearing.

Referring to the prayer of the petitioner to find a suitable shelter, advocate Kanade sought his rehabilitation under the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

On July 6, Kanade submitted the petitioner’s mental health report which said that the patient required psychiatric maintenance. She also said that the hospital ought to have furnished a report as to whether the petitioner no longer required treatment in the “restrictive mental health establishment” and can be rehabilitated in a less restrictive community based establishment

After hearing the submissions, the bench asked the Thane hospital to continue the petitioner’s stay till further orders by “retaking the patient under its care forthwith.” The court asked the hospital to submit a report as to whether the senior citizen is in a position for being rehabilitated in a less restrictive community based establishment as per requirement under Section 19 (3) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

The court further asked Additional Government Pleader A B Kadam, representing the state government, to obtain instructions from the State Public Health Department and the Social Justice and Special Assistance Department as to whether the state government has established “less restrictive community based establishments,” such as, halfway homes, group homes etc., for rehabilitation of persons who no longer require treatment in more restrictive mental health establishments as per the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

Posting the matter for further hearing to July 22, the high court also asked the legal aid counsel to examine the role of legal services authorities and whether any scheme has been framed by the National Legal Services Authority in this regard.

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