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SC notice to Centre on care of mentally ill

DNIS News Network - The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on a petition seeking a direction to the authorities concerned to provide medical care to mentally ill persons in the country, according to a report in The Times of India.

Ahmedabad-based social activist Rahul Jani's petition said precious little had been done by the government to provide adequate healthcare facilities to over 250 lakh mentally ill persons in India. Jani's counsel Sanjay Parikh said the government be asked to prepare guidelines on this issue.

A Bench of Justices N. Santosh Hegde and B.P. Singh directed the petition to be listed along with a case in which the court had taken suo moto notice of a Tamil Nadu mental asylum where 25 chained inmates were charred to death in 2002.

Parikh said the Mental Health Act is woefully inadequate in terms of treatment and medical care to medically ill persons. It is not in consonance with international resolutions relating to mental health, namely, the 1991 UN Resolution titled 'The protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care' and WHO principles. Parikh termed the situation relating to the healthcare of over 250 lakh neglected mentally ill people as a case of "national emergency" and said that abject poverty gripping over 40 per cent of India's population had played havoc with the mental health of the people.