Mental Health Act, 1987 - Description

Indian Laws and Regulations Related to Health

Mental Health Act, 1987


Description: An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the treatment and care of mentally ill persons, to make better provision with respect to their properly and affairs and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.




1. The attitude of the society towards persons afflicted with mental illness has changed considerably and it is now realised that no stigma should be attached to such illness as it is curable, particularly, when diagnosed at an early stage. Thus the mentally ill persons are to be treated like any other sick persons and the environment around them should be made as normal as possible.

2. The experience of the working of Indian Lunacy Act, 1912 ( 4 of 1912) has revealed that it has become out-moded. With the rapid advance of medical science and the understanding of the nature of malady, it has become necessary to have fresh legislation with provisions for treatment of mentally ill persons in accordance with the new approach.

3. It is considered necessary - 

             1.  To regulate admission to psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric nursing homes of mentally ill-persons who do not have sufficient understanding to seek treatment on a voluntary basis, and to protect the rights of such persons while being detained;
             2.   To protect society from the presence of mentally ill persons who have become or might become a danger or nuisance to others;
              3.  To protect citizens from being detained in psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric nursing homes without sufficient cause;
              4.  To regulate responsibility for maintenance charges of mentally ill persons who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric nursing homes;
              5.  To provide facilities for establishing guardianship or custody of mentally ill persons who are incapable of managing their own affairs;
               6.  To provide for the establishment of Central Authority and State Authorities for Mental Health Services;
               7.  To regulate the powers of the Government for establishing, licensing and controlling psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes for mentally ill persons;
               8. To provide for legal aid to mentally ill persons at State expense in certain cases.

4. The main object of the Bill is to implement the aforesaid proposals.



It is well settled that when the language of the statute is clear and admits of no ambiguity, recourse to the Statement of Objects and Reasons for the purpose of construing a statutory provision is not permissible. Court must strive to so interpret the statute as to protect and advance the object and purpose of the enactment. Any narrow or technical interpretation of the provisions would defeat the legislative policy. The Court must, therefore, keep the legislative policy in mind in applying the provisions of the Act to the facts of the case2.


The law is well settled that though the Statement of objects and Reasons accompanying a legislative bill could not be used to determine the true meaning and effect of the substantive provisions of a statute, it was permissible to refer to the same for the purpose of understanding the background, the antecedent state of affairs, the surrounding circumstances in relation to the statute, and the evil which the statute sought to remedy3.


PREAMBLE - It is established law that preamble discloses the primary intention of the statute but does override the express provisions of the statute4. Although a preamble of a statute is a key to interpretation of the provisions of the Act, but the intention of Legislature is not necessarily to be gathered from the preamble taken by itself, but to be gathered from the provisions of the Act. Where the language of the Act is clear, the preamble cannot be a guide, but where the object or meaning of the provisions of the Act is not clear then an aid from the preamble can be taken into consideration for purpose of explaining the provisions of the Act5.


It is now well settled that the preamble of a statutory instrument cannot control the express clear language and sweep of the operating provisions of such an instrument. Nor can the express language of a statutory provision be curtailed or read down in the light of the preamble in the absence of any ambiguity in the enacted provisions6.


Be it enacted by Parliament in the Thirty-eighth Year of the Republic of India as follows:


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I have a sister who studied till 12th and know does not speak anything and behaves very different. In my and my dad absence my mom hits her. How can I stop this. I & dad hav tried a lot to stop but it doesnot work
Smitha789  Saturday, June 22, 2013
Thanks for the above details,
My questions;
If a psychiatrist[ retired as colnol , senior advisor from Armed forces] is operating his clinic and he is treating a patient for 1year,
1] can he abandon or refuse the treatment to his patient.. ?
2] can he refuse to give first aid to a sudden out burst of his mentally ill patient ?
I would appreciate your response
mandeep.s  Wednesday, April 17, 2013
my brother is admitted to a IHBAS, shahdra delhi for the past 2 months. the doctors have quoted the mental health act and informed that if we cannot keep him admitted beyond 89 days without permission from metropolitan magistrate. however, we being based in gurgaon, if we apply to our state's MM, the case will be referred to PGIMS, Rohtak and only when they give in writing that they cannot treat him, he can continue treatment at IHBAS. kindly guide me on this thank you
gurgaon.anil  Tuesday, December 18, 2012
amitava66  Sunday, December 25, 2011
Dr Desai
Dear Sir/Madam,what are the minimum facilities prescribed for the admission, treatment and care of mentally ill persons in terms staff and space ratio for a psychiatric hospital under mental health act 1987 for a licence?
Dr Desai  Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Mental Health Act, 1987 - Preliminary