Posters won’t be pasted outside homes of Covid-19 patients: Delhi govt tells high court
The Aam Aadmi party (AAP)-led government on Tuesday informed the Delhi high court (HC) that it instructed all its officials not to paste posters outside homes of COVID-19 positive persons or those in home isolation and those pasted have been ordered to be removed. The government said that it would be putting out a circular soon on its website against pasting of posters outside houses of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients and for the existing ones to be removed immediately.
The Delhi government was responding to a plea which had contended that posters outside houses of Covid-19 patients was a serious infringement of the right to privacy, an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.
A two-member HC division bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, directed the Delhi government to issue a circular, where the authorities are ordered not to circulate the names of Covid-19 patients, especially with members of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) or other social media groups.
“It is, however, directed that the respondent No.1/GNCTD shall issue a circular to all the Home Isolation Nodal Officers directing them not to share the personal details of the COVID-19 patients with their neighbours, or the Managing Committees of the RWAs of various localities,” the bench said.
The direction came after the petitioner’s lawyer advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma drew the HC’s attention to the fact that the Delhi government did not pass any order or direction with regards to the circulation of name on the whatsapp groups of the various RWAs.
The petitioner, Kush Kalra, a lawyer, had objected to the names of Covid-19 patients being freely circulated with members of RWAs and other social media groups, which he claimed “is leading to stigmatisation and drawing of unnecessary attention”.
He urged that Covid-19 patients “ought to be given privacy to cope with and recover from the illness in peace and away from prying eyes”.
On Tuesday, advocate Satyakam, additional standing counsel of the Delhi government, informed the court that an email has been sent on October 7 to the Isolation State surveillance Unit, Delhi to all Home Isolation Nodal Officers directing that no posters shall be posted outside the residence of any home isolation patient and all the posters which are already posted outside the residence of home isolation patients must be removed immediately.
He said that the Delhi government officials were not given any directions to share the names of Covid-19 patients with RWA members or any other person.
The court disposed the plea, which had also sought other reliefs such as more aggressive testing mechanism in the national capital, use of indigenously developed kits, reformulating Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) advisory on conducting tests and validation of rapid antigen detection (RAD) test kits. The court said it is examining all these aspects in a separate plea.
Kalra had cited that the Delhi government’s posters had led to a dip in Covid-19 tests in the national capital because of “public embarrassment and stigmatisation”.
It had added: “It is because of these sound reasons that Punjab has rescinded its earlier decision of pasting posters outside Covid-19 patients’ house in a bid to mitigate the stigma attached to the pandemic.”