Every person with mental illness has a right to free legal aid with respect to his or her rights 1. Free legal aid means providing legal services, free of cost, to certain sections of the society, and it means that one has a right to ask for any of the legal services given below:
- Representation by a lawyer in legal proceedings.
- Payment of all costs including process fees, expenses of witnesses, etc.
- Preparation of memo of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings.
- Drafting of legal documents, a special leave petition, etc.
- Supply of certified copies of judgments, orders, notes of evidence and other documents in legal proceedings.
However, to get legal aid, you have to be eligible by fulfilling certain criteria. It is the duty of the following to inform the person with mental illness that he is entitled to free legal aid and to provide the details of the availability of services2:
- Police officer
- Medical officer or mental health professional in charge of a mental health establishment
If legal aid is not provided, the law punishes mental health establishment or any other person who violate these rights. The punishment is jail time of up to 6 months and/or a fine up to Rs. 10,000 for the first offence. For any subsequent offence, the jail time is up to 2 years and/or with a fine between Rs. 50,000 to 2 lakhs3. You should complain against such a person, or approach the Court with the help of a lawyer.0
- Section 27(1), the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
- Section 27(2), the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
- Section 108, the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.