Mental Health Care Bill, 2016

Sandarbha Desk
Sandarbha Desk



  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Mental Health Care Bill (MHC), 2016 a week ago denoting the summit of a six-year procedure to reassess and replace the current Mental Health Act, 1987.
  • Numerous observers have respected the way that the new law at long last decriminalizes endeavored suicide, a proviso which got extensive media consideration.
  • The bill is expected to be discussed in Lok Sabha soon.


  • The Indian Lunacy Act was fundamentally focused on shielding society from people with emotional instability and its stress was on custodial care in organizations.
  • It assumed that people with mental illness will spend whatever is left of their lives in such custodial organizations and the law focused on the guidelines for how individuals would be admitted to organizations and the administration of their property consequent to their admission to healing facility.
  • The Mental Health Act, 1987 saw improvement with arrangements for treatment of people with mental illness, by and large, doctor’s facilities and arrangements for release from foundations.
  • In any case, it proceeded with certain backward parts of the Indian Lunacy Act, for example, guardianship and administration of property of people with dysfunctional behavior.
  • It was likewise reprimanded for being generally worried with the control and organization of psychological wellness care in institutional settings as opposed to tending to emotional well-being issues of the group or ensuring the privileges of people with dysfunctional behavior.


  • Mental illness was before characterized as any mental issue other than mental retardation.
  • The Bill passed by Rajya Sabha characterizes mental illness to mean a disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory. Such turmoil debilitates a man’s conduct, judgment, ability to perceive reality or capacity to meet conventional requests of life.
  • This definition additionally incorporates mental conditions connected with substance mishandle, and does exclude mental retardation.
  • “A mentally sick individual has the privilege to make a development order on how he needs to be dealt with and select a representative for the same. The mandate ought to then be guaranteed by a medical specialist or enlisted with the Mental Health Board”


  • The Mental Health Review Commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will at regular intervals survey the utilization of development mandates and counsel the government on assurance with respect to privileges of mentally sick people.
  • Above all, a man who endeavors suicide is no more at risk for discipline under the Indian Penal Code and will be undertook to experience the ill effects of mental illness around then.
  • The utilization of electro-convulsive treatment (ECT) on grown-ups is allowed just alongside anaesthesia and muscle relaxants and is disallowed on minors. In ECT, little electric streams are gone through the mind, purposefully setting off a brief seizure. It was accepted to bring about changes in mind science that can rapidly invert side effects of certain emotional instabilities.
  • The law aspires for social inclusion of persons with mental illness by highlighting that treatment and care is to be provided in a way that enables these people to live with their families in their own community.
  • The law brings in Advance Directives which, like a living will, allows a person to state how they want to be treated if they are ever affected by a mental illness and not in a position to make decisions for themselves.
  • The law requires uniformity of mental health services with physical health services, for example, provision of ambulance services, the quality of mental health facilities and the provision of medical insurance. There is a regulatory provision of District Boards, consisting of a district judge, psychiatrist and users and care-givers to ensure that rights of persons with mental illness are respected when they receive mental health care and treatment.


  • LEGAL AMBIGUITY: Dr L N Suman, professor, clinical psychology, NIMHANS, said, “When patients themselves don’t know what their problem is, the advance directive will fail. Even the educated are ignorant about the many aspects of mental health.” If the Bill is passed by Parliament in its current form, there will be a legal vacuum with regard to provisions of guardianship of mentally ill persons.
  • The Bill does not recommend precise penalties for non-compliance with a number of of its provisions. A general punishment of imprisonment up to 6 months or a penalty of up to Rs 10,000, or both, is provided. The absence of precise penal provisions may generate ambiguities with regard to the execution of the Bill.
  • FUND ALLOCATION: lacking the allocation of adequate funds, the implementation of the Bill could be affected. The Standing Committee examining the Bill had noted that public well-being is a state subject. Since some states face financial restrictions, the central government might have to step in to certify funds for the execution of the law.
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