Monday, December 6, 2021

INFORM.INSPIRE.UPSKILL

INFORM.INSPIRE.UPSKILL

Monday, December 6, 2021

No ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to mental health: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has stated that the judiciary should not address a person’s mental health in a “one-size-fits-all” manner, despite the necessity for judges to be sensitive to the gravity of mental health difficulties. The observation was made by a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna in a recent judgement based on an appeal filed by Karnataka against a High Court decision to dismiss a case of abetment of suicide against a government officer. The officer’s driver committed suicide.

According to a note he left, he was hounded by the officer, who exploited his bank account to transfer ill-gotten cash and convert black money into white money. The High Court dropped the officer’s allegations, calling the driver a “weakling.” The High Court also rejected the claim that the deceased was being harassed or intimidated, citing the fact that he had met with friends and showed no signs of being harassed or threatened. The deceased’s behaviour prior to his death, according to the High Court, was not that of a person who was despondent or suffering from mental health concerns.

As per the Supreme Court, “how an individual copes with a threat — both physical and emotional, expressing (or abstaining from expressing) love, grief, sorrow, and happiness, differs substantially in light of the multi-faceted structure of the human mind and emotions.” Thus, Justice Chandrachud, who wrote the 27-page decision, stated that phrases like “weakling” and “judging a person’s mental state by his outer behaviour,” among other things, “profoundly minimises” the significance of mental health difficulties.

-Yukta Gulia

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