Mental Illness: How is it Addressed by the Legislature and Judiciary and How it Should be Addressed
By Shiralee Kinariwal
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of , but stigma and bias shame us all”
- Bill Clinton
India is vast countries consisting of 133.92 crores of population and each individual have their own identity in the world. Out of which more than 70 million of population are suffering from mental illness, and there are no medical facility available for them. There are less than 4000 psychiatrist in each city which is not at all sufficient for such a large number of populations. There are 9.5-102 person affected in 1000 population. About 8, 00,000 of the population suicide every year due to such a illness and out of which 17% are the residents of India , a nation with 17.5% of the world’s population.
There is a dynamic relationship between the mental illness, its treatment and also the law related to it. There are many statutes in India which consist of many clause related to mental illness. Such as our Indian constitution which is the supreme law of the country under article 21 which starts that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedures established by law”. This article mainly tells us that each and every individual have the right to live their life to their full extent and it also included that each person has the right to read, write ad to express their understanding to other and if some person is suffering from some sought of disease then he/she must take the help of medical facility as provided by our government.
There are many countries in world having law laws regulating the treatment of psychiatric patient. In India there are many description of various forms of mental disorder in various treaties in Ayurveda. And the care of mentally ill people in asylum in India is a very old British innovation which was brought when Britishers ruled over India. When administration of India was under the control of Britishers in 1858, there were several statutes which were brought into existence such as The Lunacy (Supreme Courts) Act, 1858 , the lunacy (district courts) act 1858, military lunatic act 1877 etc. These acts use to contain certain provisions related to the establishment of mental asylum and and also the procedure to how to admit mental patients in the hospitals.
Person with disability act ,1955 was also enacted to remove the discrimination in using the facility and also to prevent the abuse of those people who are suffering from mental illness. This act was formulated so that government can make program barrier free for the people suffering from any form of disability . mental illness as well as mental retardation are both considered as the form of disability.
Indian contract act 1872 also says that a person of sound mind can only come into a contract. And if a person is in a unsound mind then he cannot come into a contract and that contract will not be termed as a valid contact. But a person who is usually of a sound mind but occasionally in a unsound mind can make a contract. This means that when a person who is free from any psychotic illness can make a contract and if a person s intoxicated then he/she is not eligible to come into contract.
Mental illness act 2017 has also been enacted fro the betterment of the disabled people in our country. This acts fast certain important features such as if a minor is a patient so his/her parent or his/her caregiver will act as the representative for him and and it also empowers the patient to choose his/her treatment and can also appoint a representative to take decision on his/her behalf in the process of treatment, and this act will also not get applicable in case of emergency. This act also consist of several rights of the mentally ill person . it also gives the right to the government to make some welfare program for such kind of mental ill patients. And this act also contains many provisions of forming state mental authority so that each state should have this facility so that people should not face any difficulty in taking their treatment. This act also says that it is the duty of the police officer to protect these kinds of people , if found wandering round on the roads .
There are certain souvenir of this act 2017 that this act provides free treatment to those people who are homeless and who are from below poverty line. And the person who is having such type of illness then his/her treatment should be done confidentiality and if any information is leaked then some amount of fine is to be imposed.
Indian penal node 1860 which is the criminal code of the country which also contains a provision related to the mentally ill patient. Section 89, provides for the protection of any action for the benefit of the person of unsound mind and an appropriate person should be appointed for such kind of person who are not of sound mind.
In my opinion now a days there is a problem with the children aged 12-19 years of age as they are committing suicide because of the pressure of studies as there is a lot of competition increasing day by day and everyone wants to get succeed. So a qualified counselor should be appointed in every institute who can guide the students and suicide is not the end to everything. If a student want to get success in their life then they just need to five 100% in their life. It should be the duty of the professional counselor who would guide the students to walk on a right path. Another suggestions from my side is that there should be a creation of permanent judicial commission on mental health.
I would like to conclude by saying that there are many statutes which are made for the welfare of the metal ill patients some are made at the time of the colonial and some are made recently but most of the statutes are made by the influence of the Britishers. But all the acts are made for the betterment of the mentally iff patient keeping in mind about the development of our Indian society.