Karnataka HC
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Karnataka HC directs govt to constitute Review Boards after forming State Authority under Mental Health Act

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court recently pulled up the state government again for failing to constitute the “State Authority” under the Mental Health Act (MH Act), despite the Court's directions last month.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar directed the state to constitute review boards within a period of two months after properly constituting the State Authority. An order passed to this effect states,

"We direct the State Government to file an affidavit giving undertaking to the Court to ensure that the Review Boards are constituted within a period of two months from the date on which the Authority is properly constituted...We direct the State Government to report compliance about proper constitution of the Authority and also about the implementation of the direction to provide adequate and proper infrastructure to the Authority..."

Karnataka High Court

The Court also noted that on September 16, 2019, an affidavit was filed by one H Chandrashekar claiming to be the medical advisor of the Karnataka State Mental Health Authority (Authority). The entire affidavit proceeds on the footing that the Authority has been properly constituted as per Section 46 of MH Act. It further stated that the Authority has proposed to constitute Mental Health Review Boards.

However, in another affidavit filed by Chandrashekar on December 18, the Court noted the that non-official members of the Authority [as envisaged by clauses (g) to (n) Section 46(1) of the Act] were not appointed, and that this fact was suppressed. In this regard, the Court held that,

"It was the duty of the Advisor to the Authority to point out the correct facts. However, he has chosen not to point out the correct facts. The non-official member contemplated by clause (h) of sub-section (1) of Section 46 of the said Act of 2017 has not been appointed."

This apart, a third affidavit was filed by Chandrashekar stating that a notification was published on February 12, inviting applications for filling in the vacant posts. In the said affidavit, it was submitted that an application has been received pursuant to the notification and that the applicant appears to satisfy the educational qualifications and experience as per the Act's requirements.

However, particulars such as name of the person and the date of appointment of the Authority was not disclosed, the Court observed.

The Court further pulled up the "Medical Advisor" by remarking that "he seemed to be lacking knowledge" of the provisions of the MH Act.

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