The Gauhati High Court has granted time to Assam government till March for the effective functioning of mental health review boards and committees to monitor the mental health conditions of inmates lodged in the jails.
A division bench of Chief Justice RM Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia while hearing a public interest litigation directed the state government to make all arrangements for the boards to start functioning from April 1.
An order from the high court said, “...the respondent authorities are granted time till 31.03.2023 to complete the process and also to allot necessary budgetary provisions for the same so that the Mental Health Review Boards and Committees start functioning effectively from 01.04.2023.”
The bench said the Mental Health Act, 1987 and the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 were neither implemented nor followed in the prisons of the state, particularly the Morigaon district jail, a PTI report stated.
The court directed that mental health review boards in each district should submit their reports to the high court.
''...if any discrepancy is found, the same shall be brought to the notice of the respective Boards for effective implementation of the provisions of the Acts,'' it said.
The bench noted that mentally ill inmates are kept with the general inmates in the jails, and stated that petitioner 'Studio Nilima: Collaborative Network for Research and Capacity Building' have shared instances of non-implementation of the provisions of the two acts.
The government told the court that these boards and committees require earmarked budgets, which are under active consideration and proposals for the same will be presented before the state cabinet for approval.