Persons with mental disabilities entitled to have an assessment carried out at their home for a disability certificate: Madras High Court
In a verdict emphasizing the right to dignity of persons with intellectual disabilities, the Madras High Court ruled that they were entitled to have the assessment carried out at their homes for the purpose of obtaining a disability certificate under the Disability Rights Act 2016.
A single bank of Judge GR Swaminathan issued the direction after becoming aware of the difficulties a medically disabled person experienced in a psychiatric hospital when brought there for a medical assessment.
The bench observed as follows:
“The assessment process should be as simple as possible. It should not cause any difficulty or trauma or even the slightest burden to the individual concerned. the government hospital would trigger a lot of stress and anxiety for them. It is not known what can trigger the panic and anxiety. There are children who, seeing an ordinary balloon, will go crazy.”
In this setting, the bench ordered:
“It is clinically appropriate that the assessment for the issuance of such certificates be carried out in their home. I therefore consider that people with mental retardation or mental illness have the right to have the assessment carried out at where they live”
The Court also said that “the authorities will not insist that a person suffering from mental retardation or mental illness be physically present on the premises of the certifying institution”.
Judge GR Swaminathan also observed that obtaining the Disability Certificate under Section 58 of the Disability Rights Act 2016 is a right of the disabled person. Without obtaining the certificate, people with disabilities will be denied access to certain fundamental rights and facilities necessary to lead a quality life.
In the present case, the applicant is about to turn ninety and has been receiving a pension since November 1992. His 61-year-old son is mentally deficient. The petition in brief wanted to make an entry in her pension book so that after her death her mentally handicapped son could receive pension benefits. A disability certificate had to be obtained for the same.
The applicant’s daughter applied to the second respondent mental health institute in Kilpauk to obtain the certificate. The institute insisted on the physical presence of the son and disregarded the certificate of Assistant Physician, Government General Hospital, Madras Medical College, dated 29.02.1992, certifying that he suffers from permanent mental disorder.
The sone was forcibly taken to the institute where he was examined and found to be mentally retarded. However, this was deemed insufficient for the issuance of the certificate. The institute again insisted on the physical presence of disabled people to carry out some additional tests. The son was traumatized by what happened and he developed severe anxiety and became paranoid. Having no other choice, this motion in writ was filed to order the respondents to issue the certificate.
The court observed that under Section 41 of the Constitution of India, the The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective arrangements to guarantee the right to public assistance in the event of illness and disability and in other cases of unjustified need. Thus, any law must be interpreted in such a way as to advance section 41, as the Supreme Court affirmed in Jacob M. Puthuparambil and Ors. v. Kerala Water Authority (1991) 1 SCC 28. Considering the Supreme Court decision in Sambhavana v. University of Delhi (2013) 14 SCC 781, it can be observed that the state has a particular obligation to devise a special approach according to the particular needs of the category of disabled concerned.
The court also said that the people with disabilities have the right to happiness and a happy life. As unequal people cannot be treated equally, special arrangements must be made for the integration of disabled people into the social mainstream.
Section 18(5)(d) of the Mental Health Care Act 2017 states that the competent government shall ensure that no person with mental illness (including children and the elderly) shall be compelled travel long distances to access mental health and mental health services. must be available near a place where a person with mental illness resides. The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act 1999 and the Disability Rights Act 2016 all aim to ensure the wellbeing of people with mental disabilities.
The court also observed that in a state where the government has already introduced the e “Illam Thedi Kalvi” (Homeschooling) program, the same model could be applied to the cases in question. The court made the following observation:
“India’s state bureaucracy is described as its steel structure. It must be malleable enough to reach and meet the needs of the last person”
So, the court also suggested that the state government might even issue a standard protocol to cover the cases of those with other disabilities, especially physical disabilities related to motor skills.
Case title: TR Ramanathan c. Tamil Nadu State Mental Health Authority and another
Case no: WP No. 12540 of 2022
Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 232
Counsel for the Applicant: Mr. Abhinav Parthasarathy
Counsel for the Respondent: MC Jaya Prakash Government Lawyer
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