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Mental Health Act, 1987

Chapter I - Preliminary

1. Short Title, Extent And Commencement

           1.    This Act may be called the Mental Health Act, 1987.

           2.    It extends to the whole of India 

           3.   It shall come into force on such date1 as the Central Government may, by notification, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different States and for different provisions of this Act, and any reference in any provision to the commencement of this Act in a State shall be construed as a reference to the coming into force of that provision in that state.

COMMENT

The Act repeals the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912 ( 4 of 1912), and the Lunacy Act, 1977 (Jammu and Kashmir Act 25 of 1977). The provisions of the Indian Lunacy Act 1912 and the Amending Act which compendiously called Lunacy Act, 1912-1926 were not absolutely exhaustiv2.

S.O. 43 (E), DATED 11TH JANUARY, 1993 - In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of Sec. 1 of the Mental Health Act, 1987 (14 of 1987), the Central Government hereby appoints the Ist day of April, 1993 as the date on which the said Act shall come into force in all the States and Union Territories.

RULE OF INTERPRETATION.- It is an accepted proposition of law that Acts must be construed as a whole. Guidance with regard to the meaning of a particular word or phrase may be found in other words and phrases in the same section or in other sections although the utility of an extensive consideration of other parts of the same statute will vary from case to case3.

In interpreting the provisions the exercise undertaken by the Court is to make explicit the intention of the Legislature which enacted the legislation. It is not for the Court to reframe the legislation for the very good reason that the powers to "legislate" have not been conferred on the Court4.

In order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality of a legislative measure, the Court can take into consideration matters of common knowledge, matters of common report, the history of the times and also assume every state of fact which can be conceived existing at the time of the legislation5.

The principle of the interpretation that no word used by the Legislature in a legislation is useless, cannot be fitted into the situation where the question relates to the interpretation of an agreement. An agreement is not to be culled out from ambiguity6.

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE-DUTY OF THE COURT - It is well settled that the Courts should read different provisions of an Act in a manner that no part thereof is held to be superfluous or surplus and that where language of statute leads to manifest contradictions the Court must construe them on the basis of which the said provisions can survive1.

GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS NON DEROGANT- It is well-known proposition of law that when a matter falls under any specific provision, then it must be governed by that provision and not by the general provision (Generalia specialibus non derogant)2.

CONSTRUCTION OF WORK- It is settled view that in determining the meaning or connotation of words and expressions describing an article one should be construed in the sense in which they are understood. The reason is that it is they who are concerned with it and, it is the sense in which they understand it which constitutes the definitive index of the legislative intention3.

2. Definitions

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires -

a. "cost of maintenance". In relation to a mentally ill person admitted in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home, shall mean the cost of such items as the State Government may, by general or special order, specify in this behalf;
b. "District Court" means, in any area for which there is a city Civil Court, that Court, and in any other area the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction, and includes any other Civil Court which the State Government may, by notification, specify as the Court competent to deal with all or any of the matters specified in this Act:

c. "Inspecting Officer" means a person authorised by the State Government or by the licensing authority to inspect any psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home;

d. "license" means a licence granted under Sec.8;

e. "licensee" means the holder of a licence;

f. "licensed psychiatric hospital" or "licensed psychiatric nursing home" means a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home, as the case may be, licensed, or deemed to be licensed, under this Act;

g. "licensing authority" means such officer or authority as may be specified by the State Government to be the licensing authority to the purposes of this Act;

h. "Magistrate" means -

        1. in relation to a metropolitan area within the meaning of Cl (k) of Sec. 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), a Metropolitan Magistrate;

        2. in relation to any other area, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate or such other Judicial Magistrate of the first class as the State Government may, by notification, empower to perform the functions of a Magistrate under this Act:

i. "medical officer" means a gazetted medical officer in the service of Government and includes a medical practitioner declared, by a general or special order of the State Government, to be a medical officer for the purposes of this Act;

j. "medical officer in charge" in relation to any psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home, means the medical officer who, for the time being, is in charge of that hospital or nursing home;

k. "medical practitioner" means a person who possesses a recognised medical qualification as defined - 

           i. in Cl (h) of Sec 2 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956), and whose name has been entered in the State Medical Register, as defined in Cl. (k) of that section;

           ii. in Cl (h) of sub-section (1) of Sec. 2 of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 (48 of 1970), and whose name has been entered in a State Register of Indian Medicine, as defined in cl (j) of sub-section (1) of that section; and

           iii. in Cl. (g) of sub-section (1) of Sec. 2 of the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 (59 of 1973), and whose name has been entered in a State Register of Homoeopathy, as defined in Cl. (I) of sub-section 1) of that section;

l. "Mentally ill person" means a person who is in need of treatment by person of any mental disorder other than mental retardation;

m. "mentally ill prisoner" means a mentally ill person for whose detention in, or removal to, a psychiatric hospital, psychiatric nursing home, jail or other place of safe custody, an order referred to in Sec. 27 has been made;

n. "minor" means a person who has not completed the age of eighteen years;

o. "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette;

p. "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

q. "psychiatric hospital" or "psychiatric nursing home" means a hospital,
or as the case may be, a nursing home established or maintained by the Government or any other person for the treatment and care of mentally ill persons and includes a convalescent home established or maintained by the Government or any other person for such mentally ill persons; but does not include any general hospital or general nursing home established or maintained by the Government and which provides also for psychiatric services;

r. "psychiatrist" means a medical practitioner possessing a post-graduate degree or diploma in psychiatry, recognised by the Medical Council of India, constituted under Indian Medical Council Act, 1856 (102 of 1956), and includes, in relation to any State, any medical officer who, having regard to his knowledge and experience in psychiatry, has been declared by the Government of that State to be a psychiatrist for the purposes of this Act;

s. " reception order" means an order made under the provision of this Act for the admission and detention of a mentally ill person in a psychiatric Hospital or psychiatric nursing home;

t. " relative" includes any person related to the mentally ill person by blood, marriage or adoption;

u. "State Government" in relation to a Union territory, means the Administrator thereof.

COMMENT This section defines the various expressions occurring in the Act.

INTERPRETATION OF SECTION - The Court can merely interpret the section; it cannot re-write, recast or redesign the section1.

RELATIVE - MEANING OF -certainly the word "relative" used in Sec. 3 of the Lunacy Act (since repealed by this Act) has to be understood in a legal sense and it has to be understood in the setting where that word is used in the provisions of the statute, particularly, the provision enabling a relative to entertain a petition under Sec. 63 of the Lunacy Act2.

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