Supreme Court on Tuesday favoured framing of a uniform national policy to deal with those suffering from mental illness and their release from hospitals after being cured.
A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar issued notice to the Union health ministry saying the issue figured in the concurrent list of the Constitution and hence the Centre also has the authority to frame norms.
The bench, also comprising Justice NV Ramana and DY Chandrachud, expanded the scope of a PIL filed by advocate GK Bansal and sought responses from all states and union territories (UTs).
The PIL has raised the issue of release of about 300 persons from various mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, alleging they were still languishing there despite being cured of their ailments and most of them belonging to poorer sections.
"We are of the considered view that the Union of India shall assist us in finalising a national policy or norms that should be adopted in the entire country to deal with persons who have been cured of mental illness and are still being kept in mental hospitals," the bench said.
"There should be a national policy which can be applied uniformly across the country," the bench said, asking the lawyer to ensure that the Centre and others are served with the court notice in the matter.
Earlier, the court had issued notices to six states on the PIL seeking release of over 300 cured persons still languishing in mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh.
States like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Meghalaya were asked to respond on why the people, who are now fit for discharge from mental hospitals, were still kept there.
The PIL has alleged that many underprivileged persons were still languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured and there was no policy in place to ensure their well-being after release.