Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 177-181

Indian legal system and mental health


1 Consultant Psychiatrist, 'Deepayan', Tilha, Kali Bari, Gaya, Bihar, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Santosh Medical College, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Choudhary Laxmi Narayan
Consultant Psychiatrist, 'Deepayan', Tilha, Kali Bari, Gaya - 823001
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.105521

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Although there was a rich tradition of legal system in Ancient India, the present judicial system of the country derives largely from the British system and is based on English Common Law, a system of law based on recorded judicial precedents. Earlier legislations in respect of mental health were primarily concerned with custodial aspects of persons with mental illness and protection of the society. Indian laws are also concerned with determination of competency, diminished responsibility and/or welfare of the society. United Nations Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was adopted in 2006, which marks a paradigm shift in respect of disabilities (including disability due to mental illness) from a social welfare concern to a human right issue. The new paradigm is based on presumption of legal capacity, equality and dignity. Following ratification of the convention by India in 2008, it became obligatory to revise all the disability laws to bring them in harmony with the UNCRPD. Therefore, the Mental Health Act - 1987 and Persons with Disability Act - 1995 are under process of revision and draft bills have been prepared. Human right activists groups are pressing for provisions for legal capacity for persons with mental illness in absolute terms, whereas the psychiatrists are in favor of retaining provisions for involuntary hospitalization in special circumstances.



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