Updated: September 2, 2021 5:39:06 am
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked states and Union Territories to draw up in a month’s time a time-bound schedule to vaccinate inmates of mental healthcare institutions against Covid-19.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli also said that a progress report on this should be filed with the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry on or before October 15, explaining the progress.
Issuing a slew of directions for the care of the mentally ill, the court also gave six months to the states and UTs to establish halfway homes for rehabilitation of those cured of such illness. The Union ministry, it said, should hold monthly meetings with states and UTs to track the progress of establishing the halfway homes.
The bench was hearing a PIL by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, seeking rehabilitation of the mentally ill who are in hospitals or mental asylums.
The court accepted Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan’s suggestion for an online dashboard that will provide information on mental healthcare facilities available in a state or UT, the number of inmates in such facilities, the number of halfway homes, etc. It directed that this should be set this up in four weeks, and said this would go a long way in ensuring accountability.
Hearing the matter earlier, the court had asked the Maharashtra government to ensure that the practice of sending those who are institutionalised in mental health establishments to beggar homes/custodial institutions. It had said the practice is contrary to provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
On Wednesday, the court expressed dissatisfaction over the affidavits filed by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra governments in the matter.
The bench noted that UP had only re-designated old-age homes in 75 districts as halfway homes and said the halfway homes must be established on a more proactive basis.
On Maharashtra, it said the state had earlier shifted those cured of mental illness to beggar homes and old-age homes.
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