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Take custody, ensure lifelong medicare for mentally ill youth, High Court directs TN

June 12,2024

New Delhi: Observing that the state has to exercise its parens patriae jurisdiction in cases concerning those with mental health issues and without family support, Madras high court directed the state to take into custody a 20-year-old youth with mental health issues, house him in appropriate accommodation and provide him “lifelong medicare”, reports K Kaushik.

The court was hearing a plea filed by parents of a man whose has serious mental health issues. He was admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College and Hospital’s psychiatry ward on May 5, 2022 and discharged on June 6, 2022. He has been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and has current episodic mania with psychotic symptoms. Unable to support their son, the petitioners, daily wage labourers, wanted govt to take over his upbringing.

Justice G R Swaminathan, allowing the plea, said: “The moot question that arises for consideration is whether the state can be saddled with liability in such cases. My answer is yes.”

He said the state must exercise its parens patriae jurisdiction in the case of the mentally disabled who are without family support. When the state fails to exercise its duty, the constitutional court, exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of Constitution, will direct the authorities to discharge the aforesaid function. The judge observed that the state is obliged to set up residential homes for the mentally disabled in every district. This alone will reduce overcrowding. There are NGOs who have set up such shelter homes, the state should liberally support them financially.

Source: Healthworld

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