The Supreme court has asked six states to report on the condition of people languishing in mental hospitals. The court wanted to know whether people even after being cured are still lodged at the hospitals.
The Court was addressing a public interest litigation seeking the release of nearly 300 persons, who, despite being cured of their ailments, are languishing in mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh.
The states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya were issued notices by a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar after hearing a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, according to a report by Business Standard.
Information on the languishing patients at Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh were revealed to the petitioner who had filed an RTI to different mental hospitals. The RTI posed queries on names, residential address, age of patients, and the date or year in which they were declared fit for discharge. The queries were posed to Mental Health Hospital, Bareilly, Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra and Mental Hospital, Varanasi.
The plea from Bansal noted: "That this court in its various judgments had observed that the Right to Life includes 'right to live with dignity'. In the present case, the patients who are absolutely normal are forced to live with the mentally ill persons since last many years and hence their fundamental rights are infringed by the respondents. The ability of the government to provide social security to such persons is also questionable and thus needs urgent intervention from this court." Bansal claimed to have personally conducted interviews of some of the patients admitted in the Bareilly hospital.
The plea also seeks guidelines to ensure social security post-discharge and claims that the systems in place have infringed upon the fundamental rights of the individual and describes the state of their current predicament as "totally unsatisfactory", "unethical" and "unconstitutional".
The plea adds: "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 Home etc. Issue appropriate Writ/Orders/Directions to the respondents to formulate effective and proper guidelines for the relief and rehabilitation of such normal female and male patients."