Disclosing names of Covid-19 patients involves risk of victimisation: Bombay HC
Two petitioners in a PIL had contended that on several occasions Covid-19 patients are unable to recognise and give complete information about the people, who had come into their contact, because of which contact tracing becomes an arduous task and many suspect cases fall through the cracks.Updated: Jul 29, 2020 18:44 IST
The Bombay high court on Tuesday observed that there was risk of ostracising Covid-19 patients if their names were disclosed as demanded by two public interest litigants.
“What purpose will be served by disclosing the names? This will lead to the risk of ostracisation,” the bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Sarang Kotwal said during the hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by law student Vaishnavi Gholave and farmer Mahesh Gadekar.
The bench said it all depends on how careful the individual is. “Try to avoid congregations, wear face mask and head shield... This is what is advocated to stay safe from the infection,” it said.
In the PIL filed through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, the two petitioners contended that on several occasions Covid-19 patients are unable to recognise and give complete information about the people, who had come into their contact, because of which contact tracing becomes an arduous task and many suspect cases fall through the cracks.
They have cited an example of a meat seller from Muraji Peth in Solapur who was found to be Covid-19 positive, and later it came to be known that about 1,000 people had unwittingly come in contact with him.
“However, the meat-seller didn’t know all his customers or their whereabouts,” the plea stated.
It added that there are about 25 meat sellers in Muraji Peth and since the name of the infected meat seller was not disclosed, people did not know whether they had exposed themselves to SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, and as a result, take precautionary measures.
The plea expressed serious concerns about the growing risk of community transmission and argued that it is necessary to disclose the names of Covid-19 patients in a bid to make contact tracing easier and also appropriate precautionary measures be taken such as self-isolation and early treatment for the viral infection.
The PIL cited that Maharashtra has been reporting a surge in Covid-19 positive cases even though the state government is maintaining that community transmission has not set in yet.
Arguing on behalf of the central government, additional solicitor general Anil Singh opposed the PIL. He pointed out that four high courts have dismissed petitions containing similar prayers, and therefore the HC should not entertain the PIL.
The bench, however, posted the PIL for further hearing on Friday after Sangvikar sought time to go through the judgments.