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Delhi High Court directs Delhi govt, IHBAS to explain why they didn’t constitute state mental health authority

Justice Palli slammed the Institute for Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) as the Status Report filed by it disclosed less than desired information, the court stated that a quick perusal of the report, shows certain members attended the meeting of State Mental Health Authority on September 12, 2019, but fails to disclose who these members are.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Government and the Institute for Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) to file a fresh affidavit, explaining the reason for not constituting the State Mental Health Authority and the Mental Health Review Board in Delhi, as mandated by the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a plea to set up the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) and the Mental Health Review Board (MHRB) for Delhi, in compliance with the obligations under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

Justice Palli slammed IHBAS for the Status Report filed by it, stating that it disclosed less than desired information. A quick perusal of the report, shows certain members attended the meeting of State Mental Health Authority on September 12, 2019, but fails to disclose who these members are, observed the Court.

According to the petition, while undergoing treatment with a psychiatrist at a hospital, the petitioner suffered a gross breach of his right to confidentiality protected under Section 23 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 as well as his fundamental right to confidentiality and protection of personal information guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, causing him immense trauma and distress. 

The petition averred that the petitioner made a complaint to the concerned hospital, however, they refused to initiate proceedings under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. Being aggrieved with this response, he then sought to approach the MHRB, which is the authority of second instance. However, on account of the Delhi Government’s failure to implement the 2017 Act, the State Authority set up under the repealed Mental Health Act, 1987, continues to operate as SMHA for Delhi under the 2017 Act, as well as the MHRB, which is entirely contrary to the scheme of the Act.

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“In a complete contrast to the 1987 Act, the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides for an expanded and balanced judicial, administrative and medical representation in SMHA and MHRB and most importantly, also provides for the representation of persons, who have or have had mental illnesses as members,”

-said the plea.

On April 9, 2021, the court had directed the Delhi Government and the IHBAS to file status reports, with regards to the State Mental Health Authority and the Mental Health Review Board. The court further sought inclusion of names and details of all the members of these authorities in the status report. The petition was filed and argued by Advocate Mihir Samson. The case is listed for further hearing on September 24.

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