The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee made the suggestion while hearing an appeal moved by CHEER, an NGO, for effective implementation of the State Mental Health Policy by identifying, rescuing and rehabilitating the homeless by providing all necessary healthcare facilities, including vaccination against COVID.
“It is imperative that a special vaccination drive by whatever means that may be effective to prioritise mentally ill persons and ensure that they are vaccinated. The policy of having mobile teams to vaccinate the differently abled may be adopted to vaccinate the mentally ill,” the bench said. After being abandoned by kin, many are found roaming on the streets, the court noted, adding that the local bodies would have to take care of them and pay particular attention to provide them shelter and accord priority in vaccination.
Recording the petitioner’s submission on using a 10.05-acre campus in Tiruvallur as shelter and undertaking jab drives, the bench said the State should make every endeavour to make best use of such facility.
“Persons may be deployed on a temporary basis so that every mentally ill… are cared for and vaccinated,” the bench held.
Noting that it would be unfair to tax the government that is recovering from the second surge and the aftermath of providing relief and rehabilitation to families that have lost breadwinners, the bench sought to take up the issue of seeking a direction for effective implementation of the State Mental Health policy later.
Also, seeking to complete the process of vaccinating the mentally ill in the next four weeks, the bench directed the Health Department to file a report in this regard within five weeks. It also directed the State to file its counter on the larger aspect of implementing the health policy.