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SC Court asks to Uphold the rights of women in mental health centres

New Delhi, Sat, 04 Sep 2021 NI Wire

The Apex court of India has given State and Union territory governments three months to take measures to uphold the rights of women institutionalised and alleviate the human rights violations committed against them, in government facilities across the nation.

A bench of three judges, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli have given these orders based on research conducted by the NIMHANS, in 2016, and the National Commission of Women, as recently as in 2020. The reports suggest hundreds of mentally ill women under institutional care do not enjoy basic dignity, privacy and human rights, which are enshrined in the constitution for all.

The 12-page order, published on Thursday, 2nd September, highlighted the research findings and the plight of these women, which is in gross violation of the Mental Healthcare Act and other laws.

The court quoting the research said the women were denied sanitary pads. Mothers were not allowed to keep their children and there were no, separate mother-child wards in the government institutions. The research also noted that these government-run institutions hardly gave the women in their facility any kind of privacy. No identity documents, like Aadhar, or disability certificates were provided to the patients of the institutions. Disability pensions were also not cleared for these women.

The plight of these women and the finding of this research were brought to light for the court by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal in an application.

The Supreme court ordered, “The issues flagged in the application are of serious concern. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment shall specifically raise each of the concerns which have been expressed in the research studies with the States/Union Territories…”

The court has asked the Ministry to take up this issue in the monthly meetings between the Centre and States, as directed by the court to monitor the progress of the establishment of Halfway homes for cured mentally ill persons, who need a place to stay.

The Court on the matter of the Halfway homes had previously directed the centres to make an online dashboard to monitor the real-time progress made by each state government.

-Supratik Mitra (03/09/21)

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