Mumbai: Principal Secretary summoned over non-functional Mental Health Authority

Observing that nothing much has been done despite the Mental Health Authority (MHA) having been constituted in 2018, the Bombay High Court (HC) summoned the Principal Secretary (Health Department) and the CEO of the MHA to remain personally present in the court during the next hearing on Jan 12, 2023.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, December 21, 2022, 09:48 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | Wikimedia Commons

Mumbai: Observing that nothing much has been done despite the Mental Health Authority (MHA) having been constituted in 2018, the Bombay High Court (HC) summoned the Principal Secretary (Health Department) and the CEO of the MHA to remain personally present in the court during the next hearing on Jan 12, 2023.

A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Gauri Godse has also directed the chief secretary of the state to attend the next meeting of the state MHA which is to be held before Jan 9. “It is quite clear to us that although the authority was established in 2018, it has remained non-functional. MHA meetings have not been held as per provisions of the Mental Health Act,” the HC noted in its order. It further added that there was a lack of funds with state authority which was set up only this September, despite the MHA having been set up in 2018.

The HC was hearing a PIL by psychiatrist Harish Shetty seeking implementation of Mental Health Act and regular investigation into mental healthcare institutions to ensure they regularly assess the condition of patients to ascertain if they can be discharged.

During the hearing, additional government pleader Manish Pable said that the MHA was constituted in 2018 and so far five meetings have been held by its members. However, the court noted that as per the provisions of the Mental Health Act, the MHA has to hold meetings four times a year.

An affidavit was filed by the MHA CEO stating that they have undertaken various activities for implementing the act. Also, the activities undertaken under the National Health Initiative will be construed as activities undertaken under the Mental Health Act. However, Mr Pable was unable to answer certain queries raised by the bench, after which it ordered that the principal secretary be present at the next hearing.

The PIL was inspired by the case of a woman who had spent over 12 years at a mental hospital as her husband refused to take her back, despite her having recovered.

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