SC notice to Centre, IRDA on plea to extend insurance for mental illness

The Supreme Court issued notices to the government and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on a plea seeking directions to all insurance companies to provide medical cover for mental illness treatment. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Rohiton Nariman heard the case through video conferencing and issued the notice. The petitioner, advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, argued that due to the “red tape attitude of IRDA”, the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, have not been compiled and its non-compliance has affected those suffering from mental illness. Bansal apprised the apex court that IRDA, through a circular issued in August 2018, had mandated that the insurers have to act in accordance with the provisions mentioned in the Mental Healthcare Act. Section 21 of the act deals with non-discrimination of persons suffering from mental illness. The plea also states that even the Parliament of India has mandated that for the purpose of insurance coverage, mental illness has to be treated on par with other illnesses. The petitioner also sought directions from the apex court to direct the IRDA to submit an “action taken report” on the issues of implementation of section 21 of the Mental Healthcare Act. The petitioner claimed that the inaction of the IRDA to implement the provisions of the ACT has hampered the rehabilitation process of thousands of persons with mental illness.

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