The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered removal of photographs of a 25-year-old woman and her four-year-old daughter from AIDS awareness campaign banners across Tamil Nadu within a week after she complained that they gave an impression as if the two were HIV affected.
Justice K Suguna recorded an undertaking by the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society on removing the posters of the woman who said that her family came close to being ostracised by relatives and neighbours after the publication of the photos as part of the campaign two years ago.
The woman has also sought a public apology and a compensation of Rs. one crore from the AIDS control society.
Suguna also directed the counsels for the petitioner, DS Rajasekar and G Mohanakrishnan, to implead Sasi Advertising Agency, entrusted with erecting the banners and displaying the advertisement, in the case.
Counsel for the AIDS Control Society, R Rathnatara, submitted that Sasi Advertising Agency, which was given the Rs. 92,000 contract, had purchased the photographs of the woman and the child from a copyright owner of a website.
However, the petitioner’s counsels submitted that someone had videographed the woman and her child at a polio vaccine camp and “misused” the same.
Observing that it was a very serious matter which had affected the status of the petitioner’s family, Justice Suguna asked the counsel for the AIDS control society, a statutory body, basis on which it was satisfied that the agency had obtained the consent of the woman to publish the photograph.
Closing the miscellaneous petition seeking a direction to remove the photographs from the banners, the judge adjourned by two weeks hearing of the main petition on compensation and apology.
In her petition, the woman said the posters, which came up all over the state, showed her and her daughter thanking the society for their support, giving the impression that the two were suffering from AIDS, when the fact was otherwise.
Initially even her husband suspected her character and the child faced discrimination in society. At one point, she had even contemplated suicide, unable to bear the stigma, the woman said in her petition.