Lok Sabha Passes the Mental Healthcare Bill
Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament , on Monday passed the “Mental Healthcare Bill 2016” which makes provision to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services.
The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in August last year with 134 official amendments.
One of the provisions of the bill decriminalises suicide attempt, stating that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished.
The bill said, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.”
The bill ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.
One of the prime features of the bill is that it seeks to provide proper health-care, treatment and rehabilitation of mentally ill persons “in a manner that does not intrude on their rights and dignity.”