The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India on a plea seeking directions to insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment of mental health illnesses, Live Law reported.
This came two days after actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide sparked off a debate around mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The actor was reportedly undergoing treatment for depression.
The plea, filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansa, contended that under the Section 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, insurers are bound to provide medical insurance for mental health illnesses on the same basis as they do for treatment of physical illness.
However, despite the existence of the provision, there has been no follow-up by the insurance regulatory body regarding its compliance nor has any action been taken against companies who failed to follow the order, it added.
The plea also contended that the inclusion of mental illnesses under the insurance coverage is a result of the Centre’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
During the hearing, the petitioner told the court that the “red tape attitude” of IRDAI was the reason the provisions were not being complied with, and that this was leading to a lot of hardships for mentally-ill people.
A bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai heard the matter and issued notices to the Union Health Ministry and the regulatory body. The court posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.