The Supreme Court, in a judgment, noted that under the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, there is a statutory right for mentally ill persons to live with dignity. The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Indira Banerjee observed and enunciated the right to live with dignity. Article 20(1) of the Mental Health Care Act 2017 states that: 'every person with mental illness shall have a right to live with dignity'.
The facts of the case are that the petitioner was a rape and murder accused of a 4th standard victim and 1st standard victim. The petitioner was convicted by the trial court and the High Court and was awarded death sentence. Review was also dismissed. The petitioner approached this court by reopening the case by filing a review petition. In Mohd. Arif @ Ashfaq v The Registrar, Supreme Court of India, it was held that review petitions in death sentences had to be heard by a three judge bench in an open court in all cases where review petition was dismissed by circulation.
The issues raised by the petitioner were two fold. Firstly, the petitioner did not get a separate hearing and is in direct contravention of section 235(2) of Criminal Procedure Code. Secondly, the decision in this case is contrary to the ratio of the three judge bench decision of the court in Shatrughan Chauhan v Union of India followed in a four judge bench decision in Navneet Kaur v State which held that the execution of persons suffering from mental illness violates Article 21 of Constitution and death sentence shall be commuted to life imprisonment.
The court rejected the first contention saying that pre sentence hearing can be managed by appellate courts by providing right to fair trial. In addition, the court held that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances in the instant case. In the second contention, the court commuted the punishment from death sentence to life imprisonment. In this case, the bench also directed the Registry to not disclose the actual name of the accused. It had said:
"In line with Section 23 (1) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, (Act 10 of 2017) and the right to privacy of the accused herein, while taking further action on this judgment, we direct the Registry to not disclose the actual name of the accused and other pertinent information which could lead to his identification as it concerns confidential information. In this context we shall address the accused herein as 'accused x'. "
The review was partly allowed.
Tags : #Mental_Health #Review #SC #Right-_to_live_with_dignity