SC asks states, UTs to set timeline for COVID-19 vaccination of inmates in mental healthcare homes

Supreme Court asked all the States and Union Territories (UTs) to set a timeline for vaccinating the inmates in mental healthcare homes against COVID-19. Know other key highlights for the well-being of those mentally ill.

SC orders COVID-19 vaccination in mental healthcare homes
SC orders COVID-19 vaccination in mental healthcare homes

COVID-19 vaccination mental healthcare homes: Supreme Court on September 1, 2021, asked all the States and Union Territories (UTs) to set a timeline for vaccinating the inmates in mental healthcare homes against COVID-19 and submit the vaccination status reports by October 15, 2021.

The Supreme Court also asked all states and union territories (UTs) to prepare and file a status report outlining what steps they have taken to COVID-19 vaccination of inmates in mental healthcare homes.

The decision to fix a timeline for COVID-19 vaccination of inmates in mental healthcare homes was taken after the Supreme Court division bench headed by Justice Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud heard the petition filed by a lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal wherein the lawyer requested appropriate directors and orders to vaccinate inmates in mental healthcare homes.

Petition for the well-being of inmates in mental healthcare homes: Other key points

Bansal, a lawyer-cum-petitioner, in his petition before the Supreme Court also sought direction from the apex court to all states and UTs to:

•Ensure that people institutionalized in mental health homes shall not be subjected to compulsory tonsuring (shaving of head hair) as provided under Section 20 (2) (i) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

•Ensure the persons in mental healthcare homes shall have adequate sanitary conditions.

•Ensure the privacy of persons in mental healthcare homes as stated under Sector (20) (d) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

•Issue UIDAI card, Aadhar Card, Voter ID card, etc to the people in mental healthcare homes.

•Issue disability certificates and disability pensions to the people in mental healthcare homes.

•Allow women in mental healthcare homes to keep their children with them by establishing separate mother-child wards in each mental healthcare institution as stated under Section 21 (2) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 and Sector 24 (3) (d) of Right of Persons with Disabilities Acto-2016.

Orders issued by SC Bench for well-being of inmates in mental healthcare homes

While hearing the petition for the well-being of the inmates in mental healthcare homes, the SC Bench also went through the status reports of the states and UTs on the compliance of its order issued in July 2017 for proper rehabilitation of patients cured of mental illness by setting up half way homes.

Uttar Pradesh in its report stated that 75 old age homes have been re-designated as half way homes and 51 patients cured of mental illness have been shifted to these homes. Maharashtra government shifted 186 patients cured of mental illness to old age homes, beggar homes, and other custodial institutions. The SC Bench asked the Maharashtra government to relocate these people to half-way homes by November 30, 2021, as the current practice is in contradiction with the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

The bench while referring to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities act stated that the task of rehabilitation of those cured of mental illness is a two-step process of relocation and reintegration into the society which requires half-way homes to look into the medical, social, and psychological wellbeing of the inmates being transferred from the mental healthcare homes.

The SC Bench accepted the suggestion for an online dashboard by the Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan. The dashboard will help in providing information on mental healthcare facilities, the number of inmates in mental institutions, the number of halfway homes, etc. The Bench asked all states and UTs to set up this dashboard within 4 weeks.

Mental Healthcare Act 2017

The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 in India was passed on April 7, 2027, and came into force on May 29, 2018. The Act 2017 revoked the existing Mental Healthcare Act 1987 that was highly criticized for not representing the rights of a mentally ill person. The key features of the Act are:

•Rights of Persons with Mental Illness:

•Right to make an Advance Directive

•Right to appoint a Nominated Representative

•Decriminalize suicide or attempt to suicide

•Establishment of Central Mental Health Authority and State Mental Health Authority.

 

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