The topic of mental health has become increasingly important, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. This research work aims to link the topic of mental health with the criminal justice system. At first glance they may look like completely unrelated subjects, but the impact they have on each other is significant.
This paper first deals with the topic of Mental Health and the Indian Society’s Attitude towards it, as it is imperative to know about the view of our society on mental health before delving into its link with criminal justice. Mental Health is still stigmatised in India, and anyone who is not mentally well is termed as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’. Because of this stigma, many do not consult psychiatrists. Added to this is the financial burden as such facilities are quite expensive for many Indians. The paper then deals with the link between the criminal justice system and mental health, which is, at the most basic level, the concept of mens rea or guilty mind element, that is needed to prove a criminal act, and becomes hard to prove it if the person who committed the crime was not aware of their actions in the first place. The paper also discusses the mental health issues faced by prisoners in India, along with the specific problems experienced by female prisoners. The paper also covers the sphere of attempted suicide and its legality, a topic governed by criminal law. Finally, the paper discusses cases relevant to the topic, ‘Mental Health and Criminal Justice System’.