The Himachal Pradesh High Court directed the State Government to set up/activate the anti-suicide helpline number within three weeks.
A division bench of Justices Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia issued the direction while hearing the plea filed by a Law student, Tushar Singh, who referred to a spike in the number of suicides in the state and sought directions to the state government to set up the Suicide Prevention Helpline Number.
The court also directed for publication of the said helpline number in all English and Hindi newspapers through advertisement and through official communication platforms so that the helpline number is communicated to all persons concerned.
In the petition, it was submitted before the court that because of COVID-19 and the unemployment generated thereby, “a lot of people are undergoing depression or other sought of mental illness which is leading to suicides a day in and day out and young people who are the most cherished assets of the nation are losing their life untimely.”
In this context, the Law student in his plea had prayed before the High Court to direct the State Government to set up Suicide Prevention Helpline Number and for this purpose, he had suggested that NGOs may be associated for efficiently running the same 24×7.
Further, it was also urged that proper and efficient staff having adequate knowledge may be posted and if required they may be supported by the psychiatric and psychologist and other ancillary staff.
Also, it was submitted by the petitioner that taking lead from the fact that the legislature has enacted The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 whereby the intention of the legislature is to promote awareness and health amongst the mentally ill person and the person with disabilities which the respondent State has failed to do so, the petitioner in the larger public interest was filing the present writ petition.
In this context, the petitioner, in the larger public interest prayed before the High Court that the respondent State may kindly be directed to implement The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and provisions thereof as well as The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and its provisions so that the duties which are enshrined under Part-IV of the Constitution of India (DPSP) Article 38 (State to Secure a Social Order for Promotion of The Welfare of the People) is achieved.
The petition stats that Section 29 specifically envisages the promotion of mental health and preventive programs and the provision casts a duty upon the Government to plan, design, and implement programs for the promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness to reduce suicides and attempted suicides in the country.
The petition further argues that if the provisions of the Mental Health Act are implemented in letter and spirit then the number of suicides could be curbed.
In this context, the court ordered the government to respond to the petition within six weeks. The matter has now been posted for hearing on October 15.
Read the order here: