SC notice on non-availability of drugs for the mentally ill
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre, states and Union Territories on a petition alleging non-availability of essential medicines in connection with treatment of mental illness in government-managed healthcare centres.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice on the petition. The bench agreed to examine the petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, which has sought directions to concerned authorities to notify the list of essential drugs, and provide these medicines for free to persons diagnosed with mental illness.
“It is a matter of shame that after the 73 years of Independence, poor patients of our country who are suffering from mental illness are not getting essential drugs as specified by the Central Mental Health Authority for treatment of their mental illness,” the plea claimed.
The plea contended that the health ministry in August had written to all states and UTs wherein list of psychotherapeutic drugs/medicines was provided. The ministry had also asked the states and UTs to ensure these medicines are readily available at various health care facilities.
Citing the example of Uttar Pradesh, the petitioner contended that it learnt that mentally ill persons were not getting the drugs as prescribed under the essential drugs list. The plea alleged the reason for this is that the state government has not been able to finalise the essential drugs list. The petitioner cited the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 in the plea. The plea contended that the Act provides the right for free medicine to persons with mental illness at health care centres.
The plea said that through RTI replies, the petitioner has learnt many states and UTs are allegedly not adhering to the provisions of the 2017 Act. The plea contended the people belonging to BPL category are the most vulnerable, since they are not able to get medicines from government-run centres.