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States & UT should not put warning posters outside houses of COVID-19 patients: SC

New Delhi: No State or Union Territory is required to put posters outside the house of Covid-19 positive patients, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday stating that such a measure can be resorted to only if directions to that effect are passed by competent authority.

The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah in petition filed by one Kush Kalra challenging the decision taken by various State governments under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 to affix posters outside the homes of COVID-19 patients who are in isolation.

Earlier, the bench had, during the hearing of the case, observed that the practice of government authorities putting up posters outside the residence of COVID-19 positive patients was leading to “stigmatisation of such persons.”

The concerns were raised despite the Central government assuaging the Court that there is no compulsion on State authorities to affix such posters.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central government, had submitted that such posters are meant to ensure that nobody inadvertently enters the house of a Covid positive patient.

The petition filed through advocates Chinmoy Sharma and Puneet Taneja had sought directions to be issued to States to pass necessary orders to ensure such disclosure of names does not take place. The PIL also sought quashing of the executive orders of the States and UTs that allowed affixing such posters outside patients’ homes.

It stated that circulation of such names on WhatsApp groups etc is a violation of the fundamental right of privacy and the right to live with dignity as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

It was the petitioner’s case that patients who are already undergoing mental trauma and weakness due to COVID-19 are forced to face “stigmatisation by the members of neighbourhood and community” due to such practice.

Moreover, such posters lead to COVID-19 patients becoming the talk of the community and a topic of “idle gossip”, the plea stated.

 

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