The Bombay high court has ordered reinstatement of a bus driver, sacked by the government-run Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) after he contracted HIV.
The corporation's action amounted to infringement of constitutional right to livelihood, said the division bench of justices Abhay Oak and Revati Mohite-Dhere in the ruling two days ago.
Advocate Asim Sarode, who represented the petitioner, said this decision was significant as at present there is no specific legal provision to protect persons with HIV/Aids from discrimination at the workplace.
The petitioner, who had been working with MSRTC for a long time, contracted HIV in 2008. He started treatment at Sasoon Hospital but occasionally remained absent from work because of depression.
Medical superintendent of Sasoon Hospital issued a letter in September 2009, certifying that he was fit to work as driver. Again, in February last year, the superintendent issued another letter saying he may be given some light duty.
But in May 2012, the superintendent issued a certificate saying the petitioner was suffering from "Immuno Compromise Status, with Peripheral Neuropathy without Motor Deficit", and he could be unfit to work as driver of heavy vehicles.
In view of this, MSRTC removed the petitioner from service, citing his HIV-positive status as the reason. He hadn't been paid salary from December 8, 2011. He then moved the high court.
Advocate Sarode argued that removing a person from service only because he or she has contracted HIV was a violation of human rights, and was also unconstitutional. The high court upheld the argument.