The Supreme Court on Monday asked petitioners, seeking declaring of HIV-affected children as a disadvantaged group under Right of Education Act to ensure they got education without discrimination, to complete their arguments so that it could take up the final hearing in April.
“We are going to fix it for final hearing. You must finish this. This matter is pending since long,” a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
As the hearing commenced, the bench told senior advocate Anand Grover, representing petitioner NGO Naz Foundation, to argue the matter if he was ready.
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“The facts are known. If you are ready, you can argue the matter. The issue is known. You can tell us on the issue as to what limit we can pass an order,” the bench said.
“You must keep in mind that on the one hand there is right to education, a constitutional right, but you must appreciate that there are various segments of society….and when we lay down a parameter, we must not in any way harm the other minor children who are not aware about it. We must strike a balance,” the bench observed.
The court also granted liberty to Additional Solicitor General P S Patwalia, representing the government, to place on record the October 26, 2012 and March 26, 2014 guidelines of the Centre related to the matter.
In its plea, the NGO has sought framing of guidelines to prevent any kind of discrimination towards students due to their HIV status or that of their parents or guardians.
Alleging that children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS are denied admission, suspended and even expelled from schools, the petitioner has claimed that such students were also being publicly ridiculed, humiliated and treated unfairly by school authorities.
“Moreover, the confidentiality of the HIV-positive status of the children has been routinely breached leading to violation of their right to privacy and the rampant acts of stigmatisation and discrimination that have followed have undermined their human dignity,” the petition has said.
It has said that according to a National Aids Control Organisation report, the total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at around 20.9 lakh in 2011 and children less than 15 years of age account for 1.45 lakh.