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What is government’s policy on employing people with HIV, asks Bombay HC

The Bombay high court wants to know what the state and Union governments’ policies were on employing people with HIV.

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2017 00:16 IST
Ayesha Arvind
The HC’s directions come after a former employee of the Navy, who contracted HIV while in service, approached the court when the Navy terminated his service upon hearing of his illness
The HC’s directions come after a former employee of the Navy, who contracted HIV while in service, approached the court when the Navy terminated his service upon hearing of his illness

The Bombay high court wants to know what the state and Union governments’ policies were on employing people with HIV.

The HC’s directions come after a former employee of the Navy, who contracted HIV while in service, approached the court when the Navy terminated his service upon hearing of his illness..

The petitioner was working as a sweeper for over seven years, when in 2003, he developed a high fever and showed symptoms of tuberculosis. While being treated for TB, test reports revealed he was HIV-positive. When the authorities got to know, they terminated his services with immediate effect.

The petitioner, however, filed a plea in the HC through senior advocate Mihir Desai. He claimed undue discrimination and challenged the termination.

At a hearing earlier this week, advocate Desai told a bench of justice Anoop V Mohta and justice RV Ghughe that just because the petitioner was HIV positive, it did not mean he was suffering from AIDS. Desai said while being infected with HIV can lead to the development of AIDS, in the petitioner’s case, the infection was detected on time and the petitioner had been taking the requisite therapy.

Desai said the petitioner was fit and would be able to perform the various tasks required of him if he resumed service. He also said the petitioner was already “doing other work, just like any other fit person.”

Desai also brought up the issue of the petitioner losing his pension because of the termination.

The government’s policy entitles the petitioner to a disability pension, had he completed 10 years of service in the Navy. But the termination denied him this benefit. Desai argued there were several previous apex court judgements that urged authorities to consider seven to eight years of services at a par with that of 10 and to extend some disability benefits to such candidates.

The bench asked Desai to submit written submissions on what the state and the centre’s policy is on employment of people with HIV. The HC posted the matter for final disposal and is likely to take it up on April 20.

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