SC terms rising suicide cases as social issue, seeks Centre's response on PIL

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) Terming the rising number of suicides a "social issue", the Supreme Court on Thursday granted four weeks to the Centre for filing a comprehensive reply to a PIL seeking effective implementation of a public health programme for prevention and reduction of suicides.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of lawyer and petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal that effective steps are needed to deal with the rising number of suicide cases and asked the Centre to file a comprehensive affidavit.

"It is a social issue, let them (Centre and authorities) file a counter affidavit," the CJI said.

The top court, on August 2, 2019, had issued notices to Centre and all states and Union territories on the PIL.

The plea has also sought a direction to all the states and Union territories to start a project for providing support and advice through call centres and helplines to persons with suicidal thoughts.

Referring to data provided by Delhi Police, the petition said 140 cases of suicides of children below 18 years were recorded between 2014 and 2018.

The plea said the failure of the authorities in "drafting, designing and implementing public health programme for the prevention and reduction of suicides in India is not only violative of section 29 and 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 but is also in violation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution".

Bansal has alleged in his plea that the Delhi government has "failed to provide a healthy social atmosphere" here.

The plea said all the states and Union territories have failed to implement various provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 and they should be directed to take appropriate steps for the prevention and reduction of suicides in their jurisdiction.

It said that the authorities should be asked to provide status report on the steps taken by them to implement public health programme for reduction and prevention of suicides.

Referring to the World Health Organization's (WHO) report 'Preventive Suicide - a Global Imperative', the petitioner has said that young people are among the most affected and suicide is now the second leading cause of death for those between the age of 15 and 29 globally. PTI SJK ZMN ZMN