The Bombay high court said on Tuesday that it will deal with issues which are not before the Supreme Court while hearing a PIL by city psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty seeking to implement the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Sarang Kotwal then asked Shetty’s advocate, Pranati Mehra, to separate the issues in the PIL from those before the SC.
Shetty’s PIL has urged the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 in Maharashtra saying it protects rights of persons with mental illness and allows them to move Mental Health Review Boards to seek discharge from mental health institutions.
The psychiatrist has highlighted the plight of several patients who have to languish in the mental hospitals/ institutions even after they are cured since their families refuses to take them back.
Mehra pointed out to the court that the PIL was inspired by the case of a woman who had spent over 12 years, including seven years as her husband refused to take her back, despite her having recovered.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, appearing for the state government, informed the court that a contempt petition is pending in the SC for non-compliance of SC directions in 2016 related to mental health and the apex is monitoring the compliance.
As far as the woman’s case was concerned, Kumbhkoni said that she had been rehabilitated back with her family and husband. “We will follow up regularly with her,” said Kumbhkoni.
However, Mehra said that responsibility needs to be fixed in this case to find out as to why the government had not taken the initiative earlier. “Responsibility needs to be fixed to prevent such incidents in future,” said Mehra.
Although Kumbhkoni said that the government was not taking it as adversarial stand, Mehra said the SC's order on State's compliance does not speak of reintegrating patients with their families.
HC has kept the PIL for further hearing in June.