'HIV test not mandatory for govt job'

The Centre says such a practice amounts to discrimination and force people to conceal the disease, making it difficult to curb it, reports Bhadra Sinha.
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Updated on Aug 24, 2007 03:23 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Bhadra Sinha, New Delhi

There is no need for a mandatory HIV test to get a government job, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.

The Centre on Thursday spelt out its stand in an affidavit filed in response to a petition by the Andhra Pradesh government. The state has challenged an Andhra Pradesh High Court verdict declaring a provision in the Andhra Pradesh Revised Police Manual requiring a mandatory HIV test as illegal. The Centre has said such a practice amounts to discrimination and will encourage a tendency among people to conceal the disease, thereby making it difficult to check its spread.

Advocate Anand Grover, who represents the affected HIV-positive candidate in the case, said: “The government’s stand is correct and supports our contention on the basis of which the high court gave its judgment.”

The high court had in December 2005 struck down order 70(3) of the police manual declaring it unconstitutional and upheld the contention of the HIV-positive candidate who was rejected on the grounds that he was suffering from the disease. He had, otherwise, cleared all the tests for the post of sub-inspector.

The high court had held that HIV-positive persons could not be condemned to “economic death” by denial of equal opportunity in employment. “Not all people living with HIV are unsuitable for employment,” it had observed.

The state government had justified its stand, saying that persons with HIV become weak and are unable to effectively perform the rigorous duties required of a police officer.

The candidate was a constable when he applied for the sub-inspector’s post. However, since an HIV test was not prescribed at the time he was selected for the constable’s post, it wasn’t known whether he was HIV-positive at that time. The state had contended that mere selection did not confer right for appointment and since the rules prohibited the appointment of HIV-positive persons, the candidate had been rejected.

It had also contended that the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, relating to HIV infected persons, were general and not applicable to appointments in the police department.

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