The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) contradicting a Ministry of Health report, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it was not possible to recruit HIV patients either in the police or the armed forces, as the job required a high degree of physical fitness.
Referring to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the MHA claimed the report was general in nature and not applicable for appointments in the police department or army where recruits “are required to satisfy high standards of physical fitness and health.”
The affidavit was filed by the Ministry before the bench of Justices SH Kapadia and Sudarshan Reddy who fixed December 11 to hear the matter and get the views of an HIV-positive constable who had won his case at the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The court had directed the state to reinstate him in the police force. The state government, however, challenged the high court order before the apex court.
Since the issue was of public interest, the SC had sought MHA’s opinion on it. The Ministry’s counsel and solicitor general GE Vahanvati said, “The Health Ministry has suggested that HIV-positive should not be discriminated in employment. But in cases of employment in the police forces and armed forces, the MHA does not agree with the Health Ministry. The immune system of the HIV-positive is fragile and the demands of the work in the armed forces is such that they have to live in hostile conditions.”
Vahanvati further said the chances of injury under such conditions are more and may pose a health risk to other personnel. Therefore, he added, the Ministry was opposed to the recruitment of HIV-positive people in the armed forces. According to the solicitor general, the Health Ministry’s guidelines does not fall under the realms of specialised services.