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Rehabilitation homes: SC asks Chief Secys of all states to hold meeting with health ministry


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Monday directed chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories to hold a meeting in four weeks with the Union health secretary to chalk out a road map for setting up rehabilitation homes for people who have recovered from mental illness and are fit to go home but are languishing in hospitals.
A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta directed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to appoint a nodal officer to conduct the meeting.
The court, while was hearing a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, directed all the states and UTs to provide full data to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the status of mentally ill patients who are now fit to go home but are unable to do so.
It said that the data provided by the states must include roadmap regarding setting up for rehabilitation homes and based on it the Union ministry will prepare a report to be submitted in apex court before the next date of hearing.
The court warned that non compliance of the order will be treated as contempt of court and posted the matter for further hearing on May 1.
Bansal in his plea has said that around 10,000 persons, who are fit to be discharged, are forced to live in different mental hospitals and institutes due to social stigma.
On October 3, last year, the apex court had sought reports from all the states and Union Territories on the status of setting up rehabilitation homes for people with mental illness.
Several states and UTs have filed their response on the compliance of the Centre's guidelines for setting up of rehabilitation homes for persons living with mental illness (who have been cured, or who do not need further hospitalization, or who are homeless or are not accepted by their families).
Bansal had earlier said that except for few, many states and UTs have not complied with the order of July 10, 2017, in which they were asked to implement the guidelines prepared by Centre within one year period.
States and UTs which have filed their response include Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Punjab, Nagaland, West Bengal, Telangana, Tripura, Delhi, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
On July 10 last year, the apex court had taken on record the affidavit filed by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment by which it had highlighted the guidelines for the state governments for setting up rehabilitation homes for persons living with mental illness.
The apex court had asked the Union Ministry to circulate the guidelines to all the state governments and UTs, with a direction to implement them within one year.
It had also directed the state governments to comply with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and file a status report most definitely before August 1, 2018.
On February 14, the apex court had favoured framing of a uniform national policy to deal with those suffering from mental illness and their release from hospitals after being cured.
It had said that the issue concerned figured in the concurrent list of the Constitution and hence the Centre also has the authority to frame norms.
The PIL filed by Bansal has raised the issue of release of about 300 persons from various mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, alleging they were still languishing there despite being cured of their ailments and most of them belonged to poorer sections.
It has alleged that many underprivileged persons were still staying in mental hospitals despite being cured and there was no policy in place to ensure their well-being after release.
The plea also referred to responses received underI with regard to the release of persons living in mental hospitals in Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh even after being cured.

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First Published: Feb 25 2019 | 8:10 PM IST

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