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The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state government to take the mentally ill, “wandering in inhuman conditions in the street”, into its protection.

Issuing the directions on a public interest litigation (PIL) of Shimla resident, the court of Justice Surinder Singh Thursday reminded the state of its duty and said the mentally challenged should be treated like any other sick person.

“A central legislation, namely the Mental Health Act, was passed by the Indian Parliament in 1987 i.e. more than two decades ago, inter alia, with a solemn object in mind realising that no stigma should be attached to such illness as it’s curable, particularly when diagnosed at an early stage. Thus, the mentally challenged are required to be treated like other sick persons,” the judge said.

The court directed the superintendents of police to take into protection the mentally challenged, who are incapable of taking care of themselves.

“I express my anguish that despite the orders passed by the principal bench headed by the chief justice on the last date of hearing June 3, directing the respondents to file an affidavit as to why appropriate action for protecting the interests of the mentally challenged persons wandering in inhuman conditions in the street has not been taken so far,” Justice Singh observed.

The court has listed the matter for next hearing on July 25.

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