Shimla: Disappointed with the state’s inability to help the mentally-challenged, the Himachal Pradesh High Court directed the state police to take the mentally challenged persons ‘roaming in inhuman conditions on the streets’ under its care and ensure their protection.

Citing the provisions of Mental Health Act, 1987, the High Court directed the SPs and SSPs of each district to ask the SHOs of all the police stations to take the mentally sick persons under their custody and produce them before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours as per Section 23 of the Act.

A single bench headed by Justice Surinder Singh passed the order on a Public Interest Petition (PIL), which directed the SPs and Deputy Commissioners of the districts to take into protection the mentally-challenged people ‘who are incapable of taking care of themselves’.

The court stated that mentally-challenged persons should be treated like other normal citizens. The court expressed anguish about why appropriate action, for protecting the interests of the mentally-challenged persons wandering in inhuman conditions on the streets, has not been taken so far despite orders having been passed on June 3, 2011.

Subhash Kumar, a resident of Shankli in Shimla had written to the Chief Justice detailing the state of mentally-challenged persons roaming on the streets.

For getting the earlier order implemented, the court also made the Director General of Police (DGP) a respondent in the case and asked for compliance within two weeks.