Don’t shift mentally unwell patients to beggar homes: SC directs Maharashtra Government

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court directed Maharashtra State to stop the practice of shifting mentally sick patients from hospitals/institutions to old age homes or beggar homes as it is against the spirit of the Mental Healthcare Act.

The Bench of Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice MR Shah issued this direction while hearing a plea related to the rehabilitation of mentally sick patients who are currently in mental asylums and hospitals.

 During the hearing, ASJ Madhavi Divan stated that States were in the process of addressing discrepancies that the task Force had noted, and there was a need to check the status of halfway homes. She also informed the court that the Ministry of Social Justice has stated that a meeting will be held on 12th July.

After hearing the submissions, they posted the case on 27th July and asked the Union to file a status report one week before the hearing.

As per the Bench, a lot of time has passed since the case had started, and there was an urgent need to address the issue.

Amicus Curiae Gaurav Kumar informed the court that there were two main issues: vaccination of institutionalised mentally unwell patients. The second was the State Government’s move to transfer such patients to beggar homes.

Kumar submitted that the steps taken by the Maharashtra government were against Section 104 of the Mental Healthcare Act.

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At this point, the Bench told the State’s counsel that such patients should not be transferred to beggar homes and the counsel replied that he would seek instructions from the State.

Hon’ble Court directed States and UTs to cooperate with the court’s directions and ensure that everyone attends the meeting hosted by the Social Justice ministry. Hon’ble Justice Chandrachud stated that the court would take up the case every three weeks.

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