Madras HC Orders State to Provide Lifelong Care for 20-Year-Old with Bipolar Disorder


The Madras High Court’s Madurai Bench has ordered the State government to take custody of a 20-year-old man with bipolar disorder and provide him with suitable housing and lifelong medical care. The young man’s father, a daily wage earner, had petitioned the court to direct the State to provide inpatient treatment for his son at a government healthcare facility. The son was previously admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital’s psychiatric ward but was discharged after 17 days. The court recognized that the family was unable to manage the young man’s violent behaviour and provide the necessary support, leading to the order for State intervention.

According to G.R. Swaminathan, the youth had serious mental health issues and often beat up his parents. G.R. Swaminathan added, “The moot question that arises for consideration is whether the State can be saddled with liability in such cases. My answer is ‘yes’,”.

The court ruled that the State has a responsibility to care for individuals with mental health issues who lack family support and must establish residential facilities in each district to provide them with a safe and supportive living environment.

The state should provide financial assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating shelter homes for individuals with mental health issues, ensuring they receive necessary medical care and decent living conditions. NGOs can request funding from the State, which must allocate necessary resources to support these efforts.

The court emphasized that, as mandated by the Supreme Court, all institutions caring for individuals with mental health issues must establish an oversight board comprising government officials, renowned psychiatrists, and social workers. This board is authorized to conduct unannounced inspections, interact with residents, and ensure transparency through the installation of CCTV cameras.

The court stressed that the Central and State governments are responsible for fully implementing the policies outlined in three key laws: the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016), the Mental Healthcare Act (2017), and the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act (1999). This includes upholding the spirit and intent of these laws, which aim to protect and support individuals with disabilities and mental health issues.

The court noted that the responsibility to provide care and support would end when the individual is deemed well enough to be released from the institution, at which point they are considered fit to return to their community.

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