Mental health centres must be covered: Supreme Court

Suggests a portal where States could upload information in this regard

The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed a slew of directions for carrying out COVID-19 vaccination in mental health institutions.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has also agreed to incorporate in its order a suggestion to have the Centre operate a portal where the States could upload information in this regard.

Advocate Ramesh Kumar Pukhrambam, who suggested the mechanism, said the proposed centralised portal could be on the lines of the “Bal Swaraj” portal operated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to identify and register children who have been orphaned or have lost one of their parents in the pandemic.

The court directed the States to finalise a time-bound schedule to vaccinate the inmates, staff and doctors in the institutions. It asked the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to file a status report by October 15 on the steps taken and the ground covered by the proposed inoculation drive.

The order came in a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who was petitioner-in-person. The lawyer had highlighted how around 10,000 people, fit to be discharged, had been forced to live in different mental hospitals across the country due to social stigma.

The previous hearing in July had seen the court object to the practice in Maharashtra to shift them to beggar homes. The court had termed it violative of the Mental Health Act.

The court had decided to monitor the welfare of the inmates in mental health institutions and hospitals, terming it a sensitive issue.

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