Reply to PIL seeking to disclose identities of Covid-19 patients: HC to StateUpdated: Jul 11, 2020 00:53 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a student of the Government Law College and a farmer from Solapur, seeking a direction to the authorities to disclose the identities of Covid-19 patients so that “others who have come in their contact can take appropriate precautionary steps to protect themselves from the contagion”.
The bench of justice Amjad Sayed and justice MS Karnik gave two weeks to the state to file the reply.
Law student Vaishnavi Gholave and farmer Mahesh Gadekar filed the PIL through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, contending that on several occasions, Covid-19 patients are unable to recognise and give complete information about their contacts, owing to which, tracing becomes an arduous task and many suspected cases fall through the cracks.
The petitioners cited the example of a meat seller from Muraji Peth in Solapur who was tested positive for Covid-19 and later around 1,000 people unwittingly came in contact with him.
“However, the meat-seller didn’t know all his customers or their whereabouts,” the plea stated.
The PIL added that there are around 25 meat sellers in Muraji Peth and as the name of the infected seller was not disclosed, locals did not know if they were exposed to the Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) or not and as a result, did not take any necessary precautions.
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 to take appropriate precautionary measures, such as self-isolation, and also for an early treatment of the viral infection.
The PIL cited that Maharashtra is reporting a surge in Covid-19 cases, even though the state government is maintaining that there is no community transmission yet.
The plea also questioned the secrecy behind keeping the identity of Covid-19 patients under wraps while expressing fear that such unwarranted lack of voluntary disclosure might deepen the healthcare crisis as the community transmission in the state appears to be a reality soon.