The Supreme Court directed the Centre on Tuesday to ensure that people in mental health facilities are tested for Covid-19 and inoculated promptly.
A bench led by Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, hearing a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal, around 10,000 people are forced to live in different mental hospitals across the country because of social stigma, this was proved by the Maharashtra government's deliberate move to shift patients lodged in mental health institutes to beggars' homes.
“The vaccination drive (for Covid-19) must include inmates from all mental health facilities, as they are unable to travel to hospitals or be transported. Otherwise, there will be a large number of deaths in these institutions,” said the bench.
The Maharashtra government was ordered to stop the practice immediately by the Supreme Court, which deemed it ineffective and in violation of the Mental Health Act,2017.
On Wednesday, the Bench took Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan's suggestion into consideration and directed all States and Union Territories to set up an online dashboard containing information pertaining to the availability of mental healthcare institutions, facilities provided by such institutions, occupancy rates, and region-wise quotas within four weeks. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment was directed to provide a format for such an online dashboard to the concerned states.
Data must be updated on the online dashboard on a real-time basis in a seamless manner", the Bench ordered. So that states can take ownership and strengthen accountability.
The court also ordered states and union territories (UTs) to correct discrepancies in figures submitted on people who have recovered but are still registered in mental health facilities or who require treatment.
Divan stated that the ministry will hold a virtual meeting on July 12 to ensure compliance with an earlier court order requiring the submission of a plan for rehabilitation of people who have been cured of mental illness but remain in hospitals or mental asylums.
According to the top court, it issued a previous order on February 10, last year, in which it requested a status report on the progress in the preparation of the plan by the next date of listing.
"It's a very serious situation. Many people who have been cured may be rejected by their families. Inform the appropriate authorities to take the matter seriously and to ensure that the court's order is followed ", the bench said.