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The Goa government has undertaken before the Bombay High Court at Goa to “take expeditious steps to constitute the Mental Health Authority and thereafter this Authority, will also take expeditious steps to constitute the Mental Health Review Board in terms of Section 73 and Section 74 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017” after it emerged during the hearing of a criminal appeal that neither of the bodies were constituted in the State.
The High Court accepted the statement of the Advocate General as an assurance while acquitting an accused on grounds of mental health, who was found guilty of murdering his mother by the trial court.
“Though, we have come to the conclusion that the appellant, in the present case, has committed the act of killing his mother in the night intervening 13.03.2012 and 14.03.2012, we are also satisfied that at the time when he committed this offence, he was, by reason of unsoundness of mind incapable of knowing the nature of the same or that such act was wrong or contrary to law. Therefore, we proceed to record an acquittal by extending the benefit of Section 84 of IPC (Act of a person of unsound mind) to the appellant,” the High Court bench of M S Jawalkar and M S
“However in doing so, we cannot overlook the fact that the appellant, in the past, in fact, had assaulted his father, which led to the demise of his father. On this occasion, the appellant, assaulted his mother, which led to the death of his mother… if we are to set the appellant at large forthwith, consequent upon his acquittal, it is possible that the appellant might prove to be a serious risk to his family members or even the society. Some precautionary measures are necessary in such a situation, so that the appellant is prevented from committing any further offence or even harming himself,” the court noted.
“According to us, interest of justice will be met, if the appellant is ordered to be released from prison, where he is presently lodged and placed at the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour at Panaji, Goa, where, we are informed that there are facilities to examine, treat and keep such persons,” the High Court ruled.
However, the Code of Criminal Procedure does not allow for the detention of the accused in a lunatic asylum other than in accordance with such Rules as the State Government may have made under the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912.
However, in Goa’s case, the Goa, Daman and Diu Lunacy Rules, 1974 and Mental Health Rules, 1990 did not make any specific provision in this regard. Further, Goa’s rules were made under the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912 which has since been repealed by Mental Health Act of 1987 and the Mental Health Act of 1987 has since been repealed by the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
The Advocate General admitted before the court that neither any rules were framed under the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 nor the State government, as yet, established the State Mental Health Authority in terms of Section 45 of the Mental Healthcare
Act of 2017.
He, however, submitted that the State Mental Health Authority will be established within a reasonable period and thereafter, the State Mental Health Authority will be apprised of the requirements of constituting the Mental Health Review Board, as required by Section 73 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.