The parliament on March 27 passed the long-standing Mental Healthcare Bill in the lower house of the parliament. The new bill passed decriminalises a suicide attempt by a mentally challenged person and also provides a number of provisions and facilities for a mentally ill person.

The bill also aims to protect the rights people with mental illness, one of them being property rights. “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code,” the bill states.

The bill aims to promote and their rights while providing them adequate services and appropriate treatment which will also guard their dignity.

The bill was passed in Rajya Sabha last year, where the parliamentarians raised the issue of lack of psychiatrists in the country and the inadequate infrastructural facility for the mental illness patients. The provision in the bill states that each and every person has the right to avail mental illness services provided by the government adding that the services shall be affordable and there will not compromise with the quality.

Furthermore, a person suffering from mental illness or their relatives or their nominated representative have the right to tell how they want to be treated. Adding that the bill outlines the rights and provisions for a person with mental illness, the bill further states that Mental Health Review Commission and Board shall be responsible to review the procedure being carried out.

Lastly, it is not a punishable offence, if a person with mental illness attempt suicide and that Electro-convulsive therapy which can be given under the influence of anesthesia will not be given to minors.