No Covid-19 posters outside homes: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all states and Union territories (UTs) not to put up home isolation posters outside houses of Covid-19 patients unless authorities under the disaster management law issue specific directions on a case-by-case basis.
In what may put an end to the practice across states, the top court issued its order after underscoring that the central government never obligated or recommended that states and UTs paste such posters or other signage outside the residences of those who tested positive for Covid-19.
The top court bench, headed by justice Ashok Bhushan, reproduced the Centre’s November 19 letter to states and UTs, which mandated them to strictly comply with the guidelines issued by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) for Covi d-19-positive patients under home isolation. This letter emphasised on the absence of there being any requirement of pasting of posters, and called for “scrupulous” adherence to the norms.
Taking on record this letter, the bench said in its order: “We only observe that no state or Union territory is required to paste posters outside the residence of Covid-19 positive persons, as of now.”
The bench, which also included justices RS Reddy and MR Shah, added that such measures can be taken only after the authorities empowered under the Disaster Management Act, 2015, prescribe this in certain specific instances.
The court order fortifies the central government’s recent communication to the states and UTs about various concerns over affixing home isolation and Covid-19 positive posters. While the November 19 letter just talked about the absence of any obligation to put up such posters, the court order is expected to go a longer way in mitigating apprehensions of those who might be reluctant to come forward and get tested fearing social stigma due to the pictorial warnings.
Citing the decision by the governments in Delhi and Punjab to stop this practice, the bench had last month said the central government should come up with guidelines dealing with the matter for the entire country.
Subsequently, the letter dated November 19 was sent to all states and UTs, stating: “MoHFW Guidelines do not contain any instructions or guidance regarding affixing of posters or other signage outside the residences of those found Covid-positive.”