Putting up posters or other signages outside homes of Covid-positive people may end up making the occupants being treated as “untouchables”, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday even as the Centre said it had not authorised any such practice.
The remarks came from a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah while hearing a plea against different state governments for posters being put up outside homes of coronavirus patients staying in isolation.
“Hard reality is different. These people are treated like untouchables,” Justice Shah said when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that although the Centre had not prescribed this, some states were following it on their own, perhaps to prevent inadvertent contact.
Mehta also referred to an affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this regard.
The affidavit states, “the central government, through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has already communicated to the Additional Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries (Health) of all States and UTs (Union Territories) pointing it out that the MoFHW Guidelines do not contain any instructions or guidance regarding affixing of posters or other signage outside the residences of those found Covid positive.”
The bench asked the petitioner, Kush Kalra, to respond to the Centre’s affidavit and fixed the matter for hearing next on Thursday.
Kalra had earlier moved the Delhi High Court, seeking that guidelines be framed to do away with the practice of pasting such posters. He contended that the identities of Covid-19 patients being made public, and being put up on social media groups, etc, is “leading to stigmatisation and drawing of unnecessary attention”. This, in turn, results in these people “shying away and deliberately choosing not to test themselves”, the petitioner stated.
Responding to the plea, the Delhi government had told the HC that officials have been told not to paste posters outside the homes of coronavirus patients.
Hearing the matter on November 5, the apex court had asked the Centre why it cannot come up with guidelines on this.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines