Enacting the new Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, Parliament has decriminalised the attempt to commit suicide. A person attempting to commit suicide shall be presumed to be under severe stress and shall not be prosecuted or punished under Section 309 of the Penal Code, 1860, unless proven otherwise. Further, the appropriate government has a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to the person having the stress.
The Section reads as:
115. Presumption of severe stress in case of attempt to commit suicide.–(1) 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.
(2) The appropriate Government shall have a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.
The following Act of Parliament received the assent of the President on the 7 th April, 2017, and is hereby published for general information:—
THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE ACT, 2017
No. 10 of 2017 [7th April, 2017]
An Act to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
WHEREAS the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was adopted on the 13th December, 2006 at United Nations Headquarters in New York and came into force on the 3rd May, 2008;
AND WHEREAS India has signed and ratified the said Convention on the 1st day of October, 2007;
AND WHEREAS it is necessary to align and harmonise the existing laws with the said Convention.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-eighth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—
1. Short title, extent and commencement.– (1) This Act may be called the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
(2) It shall extend to the whole of India.
(3)It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint; or on the date of completion of the period of nine months from the date on which the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 receives the assent of the President.
2. Definitions.– (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—
(a) “advance directive” means an advance directive made by a person under Section 5;
(b) “appropriate Government” means,—
(i) in relation to a mental health establishment established, owned or controlled by the Central Government or the Administrator of a Union territory having no legislature, the Central Government;
(ii) in relation to a mental health establishment, other than an establishment referred to in sub-clause (i), established, owned or controlled within the territory of—
(A) a State, the State Government;
(B) a Union territory having legislature, the Government of that Union territory;
(c) “Authority” means the Central Mental Health Authority or the State Mental Health Authority, as the case may be;
(d) “Board” means the Mental Health Review Board constituted by the State Authority under sub-section (1) of section 80 in such manner as may be prescribed;
(e) “care-giver” means a person who resides with a person with mental illness and is responsible for providing care to that person and includes a relative or any other person who performs this function, either free or with remuneration;
(f) “Central Authority” means the Central Mental Health Authority constituted under Section 33;
(g) “clinical psychologist” means a person—
(i) having a recognised qualification in Clinical Psychology from an institution approved and recognised, by the Rehabilitation Council of India, constituted under section 3 of the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992;
(ii) having a Post-Graduate degree in Psychology or Clinical Psychology or Applied Psychology and a Master of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology or Medical and Social Psychology obtained after completion of a full time course of two years which includes supervised clinical training from any University recognised by the University Grants Commission established under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 and approved and recognised by the 3 of 1956. Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 or such recognised qualifications as may be prescribed;
(h)“family” means a group of persons related by blood, adoption or marriage;
(i) “informed consent” means consent given for a specific intervention, without any force, undue influence, fraud, threat, mistake or misrepresentation, and obtained after disclosing to a person adequate information including risks and benefits of, and alternatives to, the specific intervention in a language and manner understood by the person;
(j) “least restrictive alternative” or “least restrictive environment” or “less
restrictive option” means offering an option for treatment or a setting for treatment which—
(i) meets the person’s treatment needs; and
(ii)imposes the least restriction on the person’s rights;
(k) “local authority” means a Municipal Corporation or Municipal Council, or Zilla Parishad, or Nagar Panchayat, or Panchayat, by whatever name called, and includes such other authority or body having administrative control over the mental health establishment or empowered under any law for the time being in force, to function as a local authority in any city or town or village;
(l) “Magistrate” means—
(i) in relation to a metropolitan area within the meaning of clause (k) of section 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, a Metropolitan Magistrate;
(ii) in relation to any other area, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sub- divisional Judicial Magistrate or such other Judicial Magistrate of the first class as the State Government may, by notification, empower to perform the functions of a Magistrate under this Act;
(m) “medical officer in charge” in relation to any mental health establishment means the psychiatrist or medical practitioner who, for the time being, is in charge of that mental health establishment;
(n) “medical practitioner” means a person who possesses a recognised medical qualification—
(i) as defined in clause (h) of section 2 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and whose name has been entered in the State Medical Register, as defined in clause (k) of that section; or
(ii) as defined in clause (h) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970, and whose name has been entered in a State Register of Indian Medicine, as defined in clause (j) of sub-section (1) of that section; or
(iii) as defined in clause (g) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973, and whose name has been entered in a State Register of Homoeopathy, as defined in clause (i) of sub-section (1) of that section;
(o) “Mental healthcare” includes analysis and diagnosis of a person’s mental condition and treatment as well as care and rehabilitation of such person for his mental illness or suspected mental illness;
(p) “mental health establishment” means any health establishment, including Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy establishment, by whatever name called, either wholly or partly, meant for the care of persons with mental illness, established, owned, controlled or maintained by the appropriate Government, local authority, trust, whether private or public, corporation, co-operative society, organisation or any other entity or person, where persons with mental illness are admitted and reside at, or kept in, for care, treatment, convalescence and rehabilitation, either temporarily or otherwise; and includes any general hospital or general nursing home established or maintained by the appropriate Government, local authority, trust, whether private or public, corporation, co-operative society, organisation or any other entity or person; but does not include a family residential place where a person with mental illness resides with his relatives or friends;
(q) “mental health nurse” means a person with a diploma or degree in general nursing or diploma or degree in psychiatric nursing recognised by the Nursing Council of India established under the Nursing Council of India Act, 1947 and registered as 38 of 1947. such with the relevant nursing council in the State;
(r) “mental health professional” means—
(i) a psychiatrist as defined in clause (x); or
(ii) a professional registered with the concerned State Authority under section 55; or
(iii) a professional having a post-graduate degree (Ayurveda) in Mano Vigyan Avum Manas Roga or a post-graduate degree (Homoeopathy) in Psychiatry or a post-graduate degree (Unani) in Moalijat (Nafasiyatt) or a post-graduate degree (Siddha) in Sirappu Maruthuvam;
(s) “mental illness” means a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, but does not include mental retardation which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person, specially characterised by subnormality of intelligence;
(t) “minor” means a person who has not completed the age of eighteen years;
(u) “notification” means a notification published in the Official Gazette and the expression “notify” shall be construed accordingly;
(v) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(w) “prisoner with mental illness” means a person with mental illness who is an under-trial or convicted of an offence and detained in a jail or prison;
(x) “psychiatric social worker” means a person having a post-graduate degree in Social Work and a Master of Philosophy in Psychiatric Social Work obtained after completion of a full time course of two years which includes supervised clinical training from any University recognised by the University Grants Commission established under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 or such recognised qualifications, as may be prescribed;
(y) “psychiatrist” means a medical practitioner possessing a post-graduate degree or diploma in psychiatry awarded by an university recognised by the University Grants Commission established under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or awarded or recognised by the National Board of Examinations and included in the First Schedule to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, or recognised by the Medical Council of India, constituted under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and includes, in relation to any State, any medical officer who having regard to his knowledge and experience in psychiatry, has been declared by the Government of that State to be a psychiatrist for the purposes of this Act;
(z) “regulations” means regulations made under this Act;
(za) “relative” means any person related to the person with mental illness by blood, marriage or adoption;
(zb) “State Authority” means the State Mental Health Authority established under section 45.
(2) The words and expressions used and not defined in this Act but defined in the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 or the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and not 102 of 1956. inconsistent with this Act shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in those Acts.
Mental illness and capacity to make mental healthcare and treatment decisions
3. Determination of mental illness.– (1) Mental illness shall be determined in accordance with such nationally or internationally accepted medical standards (including the latest edition of the International Classification of Disease of the World Health Organisation) as may be notified by the Central Government.
(2) No person or authority shall classify a person as a person with mental illness, except for purposes directly relating to the treatment of the mental illness or in other matters as covered under this Act or any other law for the time being in force.
(3) Mental illness of a person shall not be determined on the basis of,—
(a) political, economic or social status or membership of a cultural, racial or religious group, or for any other reason not directly relevant to mental health status of the person;
(b) non-conformity with moral, social, cultural, work or political values or religious beliefs prevailing in a person’s community.
(4) Past treatment or hospitalisation in a mental health establishment though relevant, shall not by itself justify any present or future determination of the person’s mental illness.
(5) The determination of a person’s mental illness shall alone not imply or be taken to mean that the person is of unsound mind unless he has been declared as such by a competent court.
4. Capacity to make mental healthcare and treatment decisions.–(1) Every person, including a person with mental illness shall be deemed to have capacity to make decisions regarding his mental healthcare or treatment if such person has ability to—
(a) understand the information that is relevant to take a decision on the treatment or admission or personal assistance; or
(b) appreciate any reasonably foreseeable consequence of a decision or lack of decision on the treatment or admission or personal assistance; or
(c) communicate the decision under sub-clause (a) by means of speech, expression, gesture or any other means.
(2) The information referred to in sub-section (1) shall be given to a person using simple language, which such person understands or in sign language or visual aids or any other means to enable him to understand the information.
(3) Where a person makes a decision regarding his mental healthcare or treatment which is perceived by others as inappropriate or wrong, that by itself, shall not mean that the person does not have the capacity to make mental healthcare or treatment decision, so long as the person has the capacity to make mental healthcare or treatment decision under sub-section (1).
5. Advance directive.– (1) Every person, who is not a minor, shall have a right to make an advance directive in writing, specifying any or all of the following, namely:
(a) the way the person wishes to be cared for and treated for a mental illness;
(b) the way the person wishes not to be cared for and treated for a mental illness;
(c) the individual or individuals, in order of precedence, he wants to appoint as his nominated representative as provided under section 14.
(2) An advance directive under sub-section (1) may be made by a person irrespective of his past mental illness or treatment for the same.
(3) An advance directive made under sub-section (1), shall be invoked only when such person ceases to have capacity to make mental healthcare or treatment decisions and shall remain effective until such person regains capacity to make mental healthcare or treatment decisions.
(4) Any decision made by a person while he has the capacity to make mental healthcare and treatment decisions shall over-ride any previously written advance directive by such person.
(5) Any advance directive made contrary to any law for the time being in force shall be ab initio void.
6. Manner of making advance directive.– An advance directive shall be made in the manner as may be specified by the regulations made by the Central Authority.
7. Maintenance of online register.–Subject to the provisions contained in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 91, every Board shall maintain an online register of all advance directives registered with it and make them available to the concerned mental health professionals as and when required.
8. Revocation, amendment or cancellation of advance directive.–(1) An advance directive made under section 6 may be revoked, amended or cancelled by the person who made it at any time.
(2) The procedure for revoking, amending or cancelling an advance directive shall be the same as for making an advance directive under section 6.
9. Advance directive not to apply to emergency treatment.– The advance directive shall not apply to the emergency treatment given under section 103 to a person who made the advance directive.
10. Duty to follow advance directive.– It shall be the duty of every medical officer in charge of a mental health establishment and the psychiatrist in charge of a person’s treatment to propose or give treatment to a person with mental illness, in accordance with his valid advance directive, subject to section 11.
For the rest of the Act, click HERE