SC seeks govt., IRDA response on plea against exclusion of mental illness from insurance coverage

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to respond to a plea challenging the exclusion of mental illness from insurance coverage.

A Bench led by Justice R.F. Nariman issued notice to the Centre and the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) on a petition by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who argued that the exclusion violated the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination.

Mr. Bansal said insurance policies exempt mental illness despite Section 21(4) of Mental Health Act 2017 clearly mandating otherwise. This red-tapism in the insurance sector has led to the stigmatisation of persons suffering from mental illness.

“The bias of the IRDA is in itself discrimination against persons with mental illness and, as such, is causing immense hardship for persons with mental illness. Instead of levying punishment on insurers for not including the provision of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, the IRDA is bypassing its responsibilities,” he said.

Mr. Bansal said an RTI request revealed that though the IRDA had issued a circular on August 16, 2018, asking insurers to comply with the Mental Health Act of 2017, there was hardly any change in the ground situation.

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