Thursday, June 30, 2011

Erawady fire and disabling Supreme court of India's Judgement

    It was Year 2001 when 28 chained Mentally ill patients were charred to death at Erawadi Dargha. The incident was well covered by the Frontline magazine of that week. Link is below
Deliverance at Erawadi
   What many of the patients and their Carers hoped was some action from the Government of India  in the form of  inclusion in the National Trust act 1998.Our hopes became almost reality when the Supreme court of India took suo moto action of the incident and passed the following order
     of Feb 2002 issued in a nutshell on that case(No W.P.(C) NO 334 OF 2001)
  1. District wise survey of all registered and unregistered bodies purporting to offer mental health care. Licence to be granted or refused depending on whether minimum prescribed standards are fulfilled or not. Process of survey and license must be completed within 2 months of the order and comprehensive compliance report within 3 months. Further the compliance report must state that no mentally challenged person is chained in any part of the state.
 2.The Chief Secy. shall be the nodal agency to coordinate implementation of MHA, The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act 1999. 
 3.The Union of India shall file an affidavit within one month of the Policy of Central Govt. towards setting up at least one Central Govt. run mental hospital in each state and U.T. and State Govt. if not even one State run exists, to give a definite time schedule for establishment of the same.
  4.Govt. shall undertake comprehensive awareness campaign with special rural focus to educate people as to provisions of law relating to mental health.
 5. Every State shall file an affidavit stating whether State MHA exists and details thereof.
  It again issued another order on 12th April 2002.The contents in nut shell are
  1.Every State shall undertake a Comprehensive Need Assessment Survey of estimated availability of Mental Health Resource Personnel, Type of Mental Health Delivery System in both public and private sector, coupled with an estimate of Mental Health Services that would be required for the population of the state and incidence of mental illness. 

2. The Chief Secy shall state whether any minimum standards have been prescribed for licensing of Mental Health Institutions, whether these institutions private or run by the state meet such minimum / prescribed standards as on date of passing the order and steps taken for compliance. 

3. How many unregistered bodies offer mental health care exist in the state and whether any of them comply with minimum standards and steps to close down the same. Whether any mentally challenged person is found chained. The Need Assessment Survey shall be submitted by 1st. July to Health Secy and filed in court by 15th. July.

4. Union of India is directed to frame a policy and initiate steps for establishment of at least one Central Govt. run Mental Hospital. Also the UOI was asked to examine the feasibility of formulating uniform rules regarding standard of services in both public and private sector. It also asked UOI to constitute a committee to give recommendations on care of abandoned mentally challenged persons. It also asked UOI to frame norms for NGO's to ensure that the services run by them are supervised by qualified / trained persons. 

5. State Govts. are also directed to frame policy and initiate steps for establishment of at least one State run Mental Health Hospital. Pertinently, it calls for establishment of an exclusive full fledged hospital and does not include a psychiatric ward in medical college or Govt. run hospital. 

6.Legal Aid: S.C directed that two members of the Legal Aid Board of each state be appointed to make monthly visits to such institutions to enquire whether further treatment is required and assist in discharge. 

7. Rights: Patients and their guardians shall be explained their rights by a team of 2 members of the Legal Aid and a Judicial officer. Also formation of a Board of Visitors (Sec 37 -inspection of hospital). Besides the stated membership of the board in Sec 37, additionally, The Additional District Judge/ CJM and or President of the Bar Association of that area AND State Disability Commissioner or his or her nominee. 

8. A scheme for rehabilitation process like a quarter way home be envisaged. 

  The UOI had been directed by the S.C. to file an affidavit on four issues viz. Frame policy and initiate steps to form one mental hospital in each state, examine feasibility of formulating uniform rules for private and public sector and frame norms for NGO's, constitute committee to look into issues of care of abandoned mentally ill and collate information of all states regarding Need Assessment Survey. 

     But we the carers did not understand the power of Human rights activists and those close to Ms.Menaka Gandhi  who scuttled this judgement with varying tactics, the most important one being arrival of Manna from Heaven called UNCRPD. Everyone of the carers know what we got after the arrival of this "rights for disabled" especially for disabled due to mental illness. Now we have a draft of new Disability rights law and another one called Mental health law , both drafts being made after extensive consultation with various civil society groups and NGOs and again everyone knows the situation on the ground.
    A week back I got a call from a carer from Patna, whether I can help him with his son who is an IT professional, married with a son but got a relapse due to non compliance.He wanted to know how to get a
court order for involuntary admission as his son is not allowing anyone to enter his flat while the wife has run away with the child. He wanted to know the name of some lawyers and not Psychiatrists!!!Well he got help from the police and got him admitted for treatment and that is what we see new on the ground after the arrival of "RIGHTS" under UNCRPD.
    As 6th august is approaching being the anniversary of the tragedy, lot of effort is being made for lighting candles, articles in News papers and magazines about Mental health etc etc while real work is being done at
Madurai by one Chef Narayanan(not a carer, Psychiatrist,Psychologist or Social worker) who is feeding home less mentally ill eating shit from the street CNN Hero Narayanan
.One shudders to think if Vandana and Vaishnavi have not established the Banyan a  home for Mentallyill abondoned women, what would have happened to Homeless Mentally ill women who are released from Prisons due to Human rights lawyers.Indian Heroines Vandana and Vaishnavi
    Now for those who are interested in making contribution to  government papers; a new committee has been formed to evolve a new Mental health policy and the link  is below.
  Mental Health policy Group of Government of India
   Ms. Menaka Gandhi used Disability movement to establish her own political constituency among dog lovers while throwing disabled due to Mentally ill into the streets with her attitude in the Ministry of Social Justice.
  Mr.Arun Shourie used the love for his disabled child to help the children who are retarded and autistic by establishing the National Trust and also creating political constituency among them.
   We the carers of Mentally ill are hoping for some powerful politician in UPA or NDA or the Left to have a child or grand child to feel the pain of Mentally ill and then at least implement the Supreme court order which was passed after the death of 28 chained Mentally ill at Erawadi way back in 2002.

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