Mental Health Act, 1987

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:


Find a Doctor