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MENTAL HEALTH, LAW AND BASIC RIGHTS

Updated: Feb 6

By

Ankita Gupta, III Year of B.A.,LL.B, from P.E.S. Modern Law College, Pune.


Mental Health, Law and the basic rights are co-related to each other. The terms describe only one voice, i.e., proper care of an individual. The mental health defines a good state of mind as psychological, emotional and proper well-being of an individual where the person is mentally strong, fit & good in its presence. The term law indicates a rule & regulation in society for the well-being of the society, i.e. the well-functioning of the civilization. When we talk about the basic rights, it means the right which we get as soon as we are born and it is called Human Rights.


Let's learn how these three terms co-relate to each other:

According to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which deals with the rights of unsound people, individuals with psychological disorders or mentally ill patients. It states them the right of life with dignity, basic facilities are provided to them by the government i.e. they are funded by government for the treatment, they have the right to be protected against cruelty, inhuman degrading treatment, the right to safe life, the right to live in a clean/hygienic place or good environment and the right to have privacy i.e. to keep the information regarding the illness and treatment confidential and can only be provided to health professionals to get the past treatments of the patients.


The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 states a lot of rights, yet there are many flaws as per the right to life with dignity. It states that one has the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. According to the Supreme Court and an order of the Kerala High Court which stated that right to marry, is integral part of Article 21 of the Hadiya case. Yet the right to marry is restrain to unsound mind and to a lunatic person by various married acts i.e. Hindu Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act if all these acts oppose mentally ill person to marry then why the Mental Healthcare Act has brought up the basic rights to them and right to life with dignity if they don’t have a right to choose or solemnize marriage.


It may be perceived as that the rights of life with dignity are to state the right to live without any discrimination, i.e. no one has the right to ill treat them in terms of education or to accept in the society. Although some have different perceptions, it may go as ‘why would one may like to marry an unsound person and ruin their life by taking care of the individual and spending the whole life without enjoying his/her life.’ Yet there may happen that one may suffer psychological problems or mental issues after marriage.


According to Parsi Marriage or any other marriage act, this can become a ground for divorce which may truly miserable the life of the individual who is suffering from the mental issues if divorce is granted.


It's a dilemma in law in the aspect of Mental Health issues, somewhere it provide safety to them i.e. exempted them from any criminal liabilities as per the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (as they don’t have the understanding or maturity or knowledge intended under any crime) and on the other side it doesn't provide them the right to marry even many society don't accept them and they reciprocate them as a disease. They are not allowed to enter into any ‘contract’ or to a ‘will’ under the Indian Succession Act . They are not recognized to register them in electoral rolls under the Representation of People Act 1950.


The perception of analysing a law maybe different according to each individual although the perception to see a human being should be same ‘we must recognize and accept each individual as a human being and not to discriminate anyone by its gender, caste, race, creed, sex, disease or by social or economical or political status.’


All individuals should receive the basic right of being a human equally in the society or in the eyes of law or anywhere in the universe. It's easy to say to treat everyone equally and everyone will live in peace, but for mentally ill patients it's difficult to cope up in the day today.


Today's life has mental health issues affecting their daily life, relationship with their society and sometimes it worsen the situation which destroys them psychologically, emotionally & physically.


We need to bring up mental health issues in the eyes of everyone and put them in their shoes to analyse the problems faced by them and the way to treat them & and bring changes in our perception.


'Its okay to shout,

Its okay to cry,

Its okay to ignore,

Its okay to be emotional,

Its okay to express,

Its okay to accept,

We all are one,

We all are same,

We all are human in the wonderland.’


We don't need to change anyone to make them as we are, but we need to change our mindset to accept anyone.