Covid+ patients treated as untouchables once posters outside homes, says SC
Pasting posters outside Covid-19 positive homes is causing such patients to be treated as untouchables, remarked the Supreme Court on Tuesday while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on this practice.
“The hard reality that exists on ground is that if you are pasting such posters outside the homes of Covid positive persons, they are being treated as untouchables,” said a three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and MR Shah to a PIL filed by Kush Kalra.
The Centre informed the apex court that such a practice has not been approved under any guideline issued by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW).
The ministry, through an affidavit, informed the top court that on November 19, all states and union territories have been strictly informed that “MoHFW Guidelines do not contain any instructions or guidelines regarding affixing of posters or other signage outside the residences of those found Covid positive.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, told the bench, “We have not prescribed that posters have to be affixed. Perhaps states may have issued it on their own.”
The petition by Kalra stated that such an exercise undertaken under the Disaster Management Act, stigmatised persons suffering from the disease and infringed their privacy and right to live with dignity protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Mehta said, “If something is pasted that causes anyone to be maligned or stigmatised, it should be avoided. But the logic seems to be that any unknown person should not inadvertently enter the home.”
It was Kalra who had earlier approached the Delhi High Court that led the Delhi government to discontinue the practice of affixing posters outside Covid-19 infected persons or persons in isolation. He sought similar orders for the entire country as he said that such a practice commenced during the plague epidemic in the 1730s.
“Circulation of such names in WhatsApp groups leads to stigmatisation of such persons in their neighbourhood and community,” the petition stated. The bench posted the matter for hearing on December 3 as it was yet to go through the affidavit of the Centre.
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