Supreme Court Showed Discontent on West Bengal Government’s Approach on Mental Hospitals

The Supreme Court showed its discontent with regard to the reply given by the Government of West Bengal in the matter of measures initiated to advance the situations of mental hospitals by using the Central Government grant. The Court was not happy with the information furnished in the affidavit filed by the Government. The Court was dealing with the petition filed by National Human Rights Commission and the bench consisted of Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh. In addition, the Court entertained proposals from the National Human Rights Commission as well as National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences and also asked them to prepare questionnaire for the purpose of advancing the conditions prevailing in mental hospitals working in the nation. The Court further said that those suggestions will be forwarded by the Court to the Secretaries. It stated that in each State, there should be at least one referral hospital.

At the time of hearing the petition, the advocate for the NHRC submitted before the Court that District Mental Health Program was pioneered in the year 1996. But the Government of West Bengal has failed to provide the details district-wise. For simplifying the process, the Government should give the details regarding the completed programs. The program consisted of common mental disorder early finding and treatment as well as giving alertness to the public. In the preliminary stage, the Court wanted reply from the Central Government and West Bengal Government when Public Interest Litigation was brought before it for improving the situations of mental health care centre.

When filing the petition, the NHRC asked for Court direction to create new mental hospitals with self-governing status. The Commission further added that the mental hospitals all over the nation are having financial instability due to insufficient resource allotment essential for their constraints. It is therefore essential that the Governments at the Centre and State should take appropriate measures and give priority to allot the resources for maintenance of the hospitals regularly. Another purpose is to upgrade the physical infrastructure in the hospitals.