New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): Delhi High Court on Friday suggested the Central government to find a mechanism and issue guidelines for COVID-19 testing facility for mentally ill homeless people, including those without any identity or address proofs.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan suggested the Delhi government and the Union of India even if homeless people don't have any identity proofs, some mechanism should be developed to at least provide them testing facility.
After making the observation, the High Court granted time to the counsels and posted the matter for August 7 to take instructions and resolves the issue.
The Delhi High Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the Delhi government and the Centre to issue guidelines with respect to COVID-19 testing facility for mentally ill homeless persons.
Earlier, the Delhi government in an affidavit had stated that one of the primary problems being faced in the testing of the homeless and destitute persons with mental illness or suspected mental illness is the unavailability or absence of photo identity card and a valid mobile number, both of which are mandated as mandatory conditions by the national guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued by Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
The affidavit submitted that homeless or destitute persons with mental illness or suspected mental illness deserve all health care services including a test for COVID-19, owing to the fact that such persons are usually more exposed to the risks of the pandemic in comparison to the persons having a privilege of house shed or a roof over their head.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who is the petitioner-in-person, had submitted that homeless mentally ill persons being a neglected group within a vulnerable section not only need special care and attention but also require regular support from the government and society.
"However, a crisis like the present COVID-19 pandemic puts additional responsibility on the government shoulders to formulate and implement such public health programmes for homeless mentality ill persons which are not only able to provide mental health treatment but can also effectively protect them from the said deadly virus," the plea said.
It also submitted that as per Section 3 (3) of the Mental Healthcare Act-2017, it is the duty of the Delhi government to take all necessary measures for providing a range of services required by persons with mental illness. (ANI)