“Mental Health Least Priority Of Bihar Govt”: Patna High Court Directs Establishment Of ‘State Mental Health Authority’

The Patna High Court has directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Biharto immediately take all necessary measures to ensure the establishment of the State Mental Health Authority as stipulated under Section 45 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.

In a strongly worded order, the Bank of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar further observed that the mental health of a person and/or treatment of those who need it, even more so during the time of Covid-19, is the lowest priority of the State Government.

The Court was hearing that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed alleging that the Bihar government had categorically failed to provide and meet the needs of people with their rights regarding mental health and that this was a flagrant violation of the Mental Health Act 2017.

The pleading has prayed for direction to the Defendants to establish a legitimate and functional State Mental Health Authority in accordance with Section 45 and Section 55 of the Mental Health Act, 2017.

On February 10, the Patna High Court analyzed the object and purpose of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 Along with the functions of State Mental Health Authorityand also expressed shock on the sworn declaration presented by the State that said authority had not yet been constituted.

In addition, the Court underlined that the purpose of the law is to provide services and mental health care to people in need whose mental condition is determined in the terms of Chapter II of the Law.

In reference to the affidavit of the State Government, the Court also noted that the procedure to establish the authority began only in 2020, that too, with the publication of an announcement in the newspaper, and since then nothing has been done. Nothing to speed up the process. process.

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The Court also noted that even the affidavit submitted no disclose the timeframe within which such process would be completed.

It only states that ‘applications were received under the advertisements mentioned above and are under consideration, but due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, they are still in the process of being finalized. What is that stage? How long would it take to complete? Who participates in the selection process? are all the questions that remain to be answered by your own imagination”, added the Court.

Finally, in issuing the aforementioned order, the Court requested an affidavit of compliance indicating the most recent status, from the Chief Secretary to the Government of Bihar, before the next date.

The Court also requested details of the measures taken to comply with the other provisions of the Statute; the deficiencies pointed out by the petitioner in the petition brief; and the suggestion given for an adequate and effective implementation in an expeditious manner.

With this, the matter has been published for a new hearing on February 25, 2022. Advocates Vishal Kumar Singh, Akash Keshav, Deepak Kumar Singh and Shashwat appeared for the petitioner.

Case title – Akanksha Maviya v. The Union of India and Ors.

Click here to read/download the order

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