Rashmi Drolia

RAIPUR : Chhattisgarh high court has directed the state government to set up a mental health hospital at Bilaspur, asking it to retrieve the hospital building within six weeks, which was earlier given to an university.

The division bench of justice Satish K Agnihotri and justice P Sam Koshy, in their judgement, asked the government to handover the building to health department, directing that all staff, including doctors, be posted at the hospital within a fortnight. The court also directed the state government to take steps to locate and admit mentally challenged people to the hospital at Bilaspur, to provide them proper treatment, food and clothing.

The judgement came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Mamta Sharma, Sunita Tikariya and Bhishma Singh Tikariya, seeking a writ in the nature of a mandamus, commandin g the state to cancel the allotment of the hospital building to state’s university. The building was handed over to the university at Bilaspur, for a period of three years, commencing from April 2012. The order observed that all the mentally ill people had been placed in dock and this also established the fact that the state government didn’t seem to be interested in opening the hospital, as undertaken by the state in an earlier writ petition.

Quoting a Supreme Court order in a case related to death of 25 chained inmates in Asylum in Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh high court observed that it was clearly directed to all state governments to frame policy and initiate steps for establishment of at least one mental hospital in each state. Also, mere creation of wards in other hospitals is not compliance of the order of Supreme Court, as the requirement is a full-fledged hospital catering to the needs of mentally ill people, the court observed.

Pointing out that no mental hospital has been set up till date in Chhattisgarh , high court observed that it was a requirement that at least one hospital should be there in each state. University is necessary for education, but proper treatment is the basic requirement, and so, priority must be given to the hospital, the court observed.