The Supreme Court on Friday said it will take a call on passing directions for improving the conditions of mental hospitals in the country and setting up more of them, only after a pending bill on the issue gets the Parliament’s nod.
“The whole thing is in the melting pot of Parliament and let Parliament take a decision,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said after it was informed that the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 has been passed by the Rajya Sabha and is likely to be placed in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which was hearing a batch of petitions on the issue, including one by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), posted the matters for hearing in February 2017.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand apprised the bench about the developments so far, including involvement of experts to address the issues involved in it.
The law officer said suggestions put forth by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appointed as an amicus curiae in the matter, have been taken care of.
Singhvi said since the bill, after its nod from the Upper House is pending in the Lower House, all suggestions can be summarised for perusal by the parliamentarians.
He said the areas that require to be addressed concerned improvement in facilities at mental hospitals and institutes, besides the need for at least one specialised hospital with specialised services in every state which can be established in their capital cities.
He said there has been a practice of setting up of specialised unit of psychiatry in general hospitals but that cannot meet the facility and logistics of a true mental hospital or asylum.
The court was apprised that both state governments and the Centre have to take steps in this regard as health fell under the concurrent list in the Constitution.
Taking note of the submissions, the bench said since the Bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 8, it would await its outcome in the Lok Sabha.
The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by various human rights organisations, also by jurist Upendra Baxi. The court has also taken note of various incidents of human right violations in mental hospitals including at some places where patients were put under chains.