Supreme Court expresses horror at UP asylum keeping mentally challenged patients in chains, issues notice

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] two-judge bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Abdul Nazeer of the Supreme Court of India on January 3, 2018 expressed its utmost shock on an issue highlighting patients suffering from mental illness, who are lodged in a faith-based mental asylum situated near Mohalla Kabulpur, district Badayun, Uttar Pradesh, and are being kept in chains. Petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bensal has filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking effective implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

The Petitioner placed before the Court the photographs of such persons showing that the mentally challenged patients have been kept in chains in district Badayun, Uttar Pradesh.

Visibly upset, the Supreme Court said: “This is not only inhuman and violative of rights of such persons under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, as even a person suffering from mental disability is still a human being and his dignity cannot be violated. It is also against the spirit of Section 95 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.”

Section 95 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is read as follows:

Section 95: Prohibited procedures
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the following treatments shall not be performed on any person with mental illness–
(a) electro-convulsive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia;
(b) electro-convulsive therapy for minors;
(c) sterilisation of men or women, when such sterilisation is intended as a treatment for mental illness;
(d) chained in any manner or form whatsoever.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), if, in the opinion of psychiatrist in charge of a minor’s treatment, electro-convulsive therapy is required, then, such treatment shall be done with the informed consent of the guardian and prior permission of the concerned Board.

Supreme Court has issued notice to Union of India and the State governments, and requested the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to look into the issue of chaining of mentally-challenged patients within two days. The SG agreed with the Court that mentally challenged individuals cannot be kept in chains. Now, the matter will be heard on January 7, 2019.


Read the Supreme Court order.