corona virus and bombay HC
corona virus and bombay HC
Litigation News

PIL seeks disclosure of COVID-19 patients' names in larger public interest: Bombay HC directs Centre, State govt to file reply

"If the clause of secrecy is relaxed, then, the people who came into contact with the corona patients may themselves come forward and take appropriate precautionary measures", the plea observes.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Bombay High Court yesterday sought the response of the Central and State governments in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a special mechanism to declare the names of both persons suspected of having COVID-19 and those actually infected by the virus to prevent others from coming in contact with them (Vaishnavi Maruti Gholave & Anr v. UOI and ors).

Notice was issued by a Division Bench comprising of Justices AA Sayed and MS Karnik in a petition filed by law student, Vaishnavi Gholave and and agriculturist from Solapur, Mahesh Gadekar.

As of now, the identity of suspected persons who are home-quarantined or hospitalized are not disclosed and is kept as a secret, the plea notes.

However, it is firmly contended that disclosure of names of the infected as well as suspected persons is necessary in the larger public interest since the infected may not be able to give complete information of those who had come in contact with them. Non-disclosure of names has deprived citizens the right to health under Article 21 of the Constitution, the plea states.

"If the clause of secrecy is relaxed, then, the people who came into contact with the corona patients may themselves come forward and take appropriate precautionary measures", the plea observes.

Further referring to the Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2000 (ICMR Regulations), the plea contends that the secrets of the patient can be disclosed in public interest. In this regard, the PIL also relies upon the Supreme Court judgment in Mr. X v. Hospital Z.

"The Petitioners state that disclosure about the communicable disease can be made in the public interest. Likewise in case of notifiable disease, the doctor is bound to disclose all the required information to the concerned authorities. In such cases, the right of confidentiality enjoyed by the patient must be given away in the interest of public good. This exception has been recognised by the Clause 7.14 of the said Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002."

the PIL states.

Further, the PIL adds that medical confidentiality is not absolute in modern medicine.

The Petitioners have submitted that they had given a detailed representation before the State Government requesting to declare the names of the COVID-19 infected persons, however, the State Government has not taken any action till date.

Adding on, the plea notes that India has yet not reached the third stage of the pandemic where the infection is untraceable, according to state information. However, it can do so anytime if the government fails to declare the names of Corona patients, the petitioners argue.

Disclosing the names and photos of patients can help contact tracing and alert others who may have had contact to quarantine themselves, the PIL contends.

On these grounds, the plea urges that the authorities be directed to evolve a special system/ management to declare the names of such persons who are suspected/infected of COVID-19.

The matter will be next heard on July 24.

Advocate Vinod Sangvikar appeared for the Petitioners. Advocates Aditya Thakkar and DP Singh appeared for the Central Government. Acting Government Pleader PP Kakade appeared for the State government.

[Read the Petition]

Vaishnavi Maruti Gholave & Anr v. UOI and ors.pdf
Preview

[Read order here]

Bombay HC order - names of COVID patients.pdf
Preview
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com