19-years-old Shreyus has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against a private hospital, VIMHANS (Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro & Allied Sciences) after the hospital refused to take action against its employee, Dr. Mausami Sinha, a Psychiatrist, who allegedly leaked information about the petitioner’s sexuality to his mother.
Shreyus alleges that Dr. Mousami Sinha disclosed his sexual orientation to his family breaching confidentiality.
The petitioner said, “I was taking treatment from Dr. Mausami Sinha as I was diagnosed with Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I had informed her that I am exploring my sexual orientation and I was fearful of my parent’s reaction to this.” Due to a lack of awareness about different sexual orientations and gender identities and the stigma that remains in the society against the LGBTQIA+ community, parents are often reluctant to accept and embrace their children’s sexuality and gender identity if they are not heterosexual and cisgender.
The petitioner was referred to a Clinical Psychologist by Dr. Sinha. Simultaneously, Dr. Sinha and the petitioner continued to discuss his progress, too. The petitioner had requested repeatedly Dr. Sinha and the Clinical Psychologist to not discuss anything about his sexual orientation with his family.
The petition states, “The process of coming out, that is, of informing others about one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or both, which may include one’s family, friends, and colleagues, is a deeply personal experience with profound implications on an individual’s life and safety. A person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are intimate aspects of their life and the decision to discuss this with others rests entirely with that person alone.” The petitioner was not ready to come out to his family and he had informed the same to Dr. Sinha, who was visibly irritated with his decision.
The petitioner alleges that on 20th June 2020, Dr. Sinha had a long private conversation with the petitioner’s mother and during this talk, she breached the petitioner’s privacy, in violation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, by revealing details about his sexuality to his mother despite his repeated instructions against doing so.
This incident deeply shocked and affected the petitioner. Confidentiality between a doctor and a patient allows patients to openly speak about their distress and seek timely treatment. Dr. Sinha had allegedly violated this confidentiality and therefore, the petitioner tried filing a case with VIMHANS against her. However, the hospital retaliated and blamed the petitioner for ‘damaging its reputation and asked him to apologize.
Following this, the petitioner tried to approach the Mental Health Review Board (MHRB), Delhi but found that in Delhi the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) itself functions as MHRB. The petition mentions that this is a gross violation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which states that every state must constitute an MHRB. The petitioner approached the Government of Delhi for the constitution of MHRB, but his efforts did not yield results. Due to this, the petitioner was forced to file a case in the Delhi High Court.
Advocate Mihir Samson is representing the petitioner. Justice Pratibha Singh who heard the case has sought status reports on the current functioning of the MHRB and SHMA in Delhi. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 22nd July 2021.
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