Background: Amit Sahni vs. Govt of NCT Delhi And Ors. and otheris a PIL moved by the Petitioner under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution praying for re-constitution of the State Mental Health Authority as per the requirements of Sections 45 and 46 of the Mental Health Act, 2017 and Mental Healthcare (State Mental Health Authority) Rules, 2018.
Provisions: Section 45 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides “establishment of state authority” stating “every State Government shall, within a period of nine months from the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President, by notification, establish, for the purposes of this Act, an Authority to be known as the State Mental Health Authority.”
Section 46 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides for the composition of such state authority consisting of “chairperson and members” as described in the provision.
Mental Healthcare (State Mental Health Authority) Rules, 2018 in Chapter II provides for the process of such nominations, qualifications for members, procedure and term of office.
Petitioner’s Contention: Advocate Amit Sahni filed a PIL, emphasizing the urgent need for the effective implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. Sahni highlighted how the absence of mental health authorities has been negatively impacting the treatment of mentally ill individuals. He contended that the delay in forming a permanent State Mental Health Authority in Delhi was impeding proper mental health treatment. This concern led to the court summoning Delhi Government’s Health Secretary in August.
Respondent’s Response: The Respondents had submitted that the process for reconstitution of the State Mental Health Authority as per Sections 45 and 46 of the Mental Health Act, 2017 and the Mental Healthcare (State Mental Health Authority) Rules, 2018 is underway and shall be finalized soon.
Note- In August of this year, the Delhi HC had granted time to the Respondents and directed them to file a status report, however, to date the permanent State Mental Health Authority has not been constituted. Therefore, the Court had directed the Secretary (Health), GNCTD, to be present in court and the same would have been dispensed if the State Mental Health Authority was constituted as per S. 45 and 46 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
Order: The status report regarding the re-constitution of the permanent State Mental Health Authority (“SMHA”) was filed and the counsel for GNCTD informed that the Lt. Governor has duly considered and given approval to the proposal to appoint ex-officio members of the SMHA. Accordingly, the GNCTD has placed the draft notification for the appointment of ex-officio members of the SMHA before the Hon’ble President of India for further action.
Significance of the Case: The constitution of State Authority under the 2017 Act is an important aspect of ensuring the implementation of both the 2017 Act and 2018 Rules. The State Authority is responsible for registering mental health establishments in the state, develop quality and services provision for these establishments, supervise all such establishments and receive complaints in cases of deficiencies, register clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers in the State, train relevant persons like law enforcement professionals, mental health professional, etc., among other functions required to ensure that the purpose of the Act is fulfilled and its effective implementation is ensured. The Court through this case has emphasized the proper and timely constitution of the State Authority to ensure the objectives of the Act and the implementation of it are ensured.
-By Lakshita Bhati