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SC agrees to hear plea on non-availability of essential drugs for treatment of mental illness

The plea said that Union Health Ministry had written a letter in August last year to all the states and UTs wherein list of psychotherapeutic drugs was attached.

Published: 04th September 2020 06:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2020 06:47 PM   |  A+A-

Pill, medicine, purpose, tablet, pixabay

For representational purposes.

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre, states and Union Territory (UTs) on a plea alleging non-availability of essential medicines for treatment of mental illness in government run or funded health care centres.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde agreed to hear the plea which has sought direction to the authorities to forthwith notify the essential drugs list in their states and UTs and provide medicines free of cost to persons suffering from mental illness. "Issue notice," said the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The plea, filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, said that Union Health Ministry had written a letter in August last year to all the states and UTs wherein list of psychotherapeutic drugs/medicines was attached and a request was made to ensure that these medicines be made available at various health care facilities.

"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.

Bansal referred to the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and said it provides the right for free medicine to persons with mental illness all the times at health establishments starting from community health centres and upwards in the public health system.

The petitioner said after the Union Health Ministry's August last year letter to the states and UTs, he had filed applications under the Right to Information Act seeking information regarding the status of implementation of a provision of the 2017 Act.

The provision of the Act provides that authority shall notify essential drugs list and all medicines on the list be made available free of cost to all persons with mental illness at all times at health establishments run or funded by the government.

The plea claimed that as per RTI replies, the petitioner has come to know that many states and UTs have violated the provision of the 2017 Act and those suffering from mental illness and belonging to BPL category are unable to get medicines from government run or funded health establishments.

The plea alleged that as per reply provided by Maharashtra, "it is crystal clear that Maharashtra state is not providing the essential drugs in accordance with the essential drugs list notification issued by Central Mental Health Authority".

"Similarly, in case of state of Uttar Pradesh, applicant has learnt that mentally ill persons are not getting the drugs as prescribed under the essential drugs list because of the reason that since last one year, state of Uttar Pradesh has not been able to finalize its state essential drugs list," the plea alleged.

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