Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 enacted

The Parliament has enacted the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which will replace the Mental Health Act, 1987. Enacted with a view to fulfilling India’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this Act takes a rights-based approach, and recognises the agency of mentally ill persons. The Act prohibits practices such as forced sterilisation, electro-convulsive therapy without muscle relaxants, and chaining of mentally ill persons. In addition, it enables persons suffering from mental illnesses to make advance directives about the nature of treatment that they may receive once incapacitated to make such decisions. Significantly, this Act also raises a presumption of ‘severe stress’ to safeguard persons who may have attempted suicide, from prosecution under Sec. 309 of the IPC.