The Bombay High Court has called for an action plan for rehabilitation of 94 persons who have been declared fit for discharge from state mental health establishments but are suffering from physical or mental disability. In all, a total of 263 persons, who have been lodged at the state mental health establishments for more than 10 years, have been declared fit for discharge by the state review boards.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Manjusha Deshpande have directed the Directorate of Disabilities to chalk out a plan of action for rehabilitation of these 94 persons.
The HC is hearing a petition by psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, highlighting the plight of patients languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured or even when they are not seriously mentally ill.
State advocate MM Pabale said that affidavits were filed by Assistant Commissioner of the Persons with Disability Welfare Commissionrate and by the Chief Executive Officer, State Mental Health Authority (SMHA), Maharashtra stating that they had two meetings wherein it was noted that out of fit patients, 23 are physically challenged, and 71 are mentally challenged. This needs to be addressed by the Commissionerate for Disabilities.
Authority proposes to reunite 50 more patients with their families
Senior advocate Vishvajit Sawant, appearing for the SMHA, said that of the 263 patients found fit to be discharged, 24 persons were reunited with their families. He also said that the authority proposes to reunite 50 more patients with their families by the next date of hearing.
The HC noted that a “priority list” will have to be prepared and those found fit for “immediate rehabilitation” can be put on the list.
Shetty’s advocate Pranati Mehra submitted that the patients who have stayed for over 10 years in these establishments are being rehabilitated by an escort drive, then if any other patients have been found fit but have spent less than 10 years can also be attempted to be rehabilitated if they are from the same locality or village.
Senior advocate JP Sen, who was appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court), said that it could be easier to rehabilitate the patients who have stayed for less time in the Mental Health Establishment.
The bench has asked the SMHA to consider whether it is practically feasible to rehabilitate those above ten years and those below ten years.
Keeping the matter for hearing on December 8, the HC has asked the SMHA to place on record the plan of action for the next three months with tentative dates.