Madras High Court
Madras High Court
Litigation News

Revealing Identity of COVID-19 affected persons would lead to social stigma: Madras HC junks plea to publish names

"If the prayer sought for by the petitioner is granted, it would further lead to law and order and public order problem, apart from the social stigma, some times may lead to excommunication also", the Court added.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court recently dismissed a plea to reveal the identities of persons afflicted by COVID-19 on Government websites, so that others who believe they have come into contact with such persons may quarantine themselves. The petitioner had made the prayer on the ground that the spread of COVID-19 may thereby be prevented.

The Division Bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar, however, declined to entertain the plea, pointing out that the Central Government itself has recognised that it is likely that social stigma will be associated with the disease.

The Court added that,

"This Court can take judicial notice of the fact on account of the revealing of the identity of the person/persons, there would be definitely a social stigma and aspersions on account of the same..."
Madras High Court

To cite an example, the Court also recounted a recent incident where the burial of doctor who died from a COVID-19 infection was obstructed by local residents, "which resulted in attacking of ambulance driver, paramedical personnels as well as public servants" as well.

As result, the Bench pointed out that the mortal remains of the doctor had to be buried elsewhere. The Court proceeded to comment,

"The people are slowly becoming aware of the effect of COVID-19 virus and if the prayer sought for by the petitioner is granted, it would further lead to law and order and public order problem, apart from the social stigma, some times may lead to excommunication also."
Madras High Court

In view of these concerns, the Court proceeded to dismiss the plea, observing,

"In the considered opinion of the Court, the Writ Petition, styled as Public Interest Litigation lacks merit and substances and deserves dismissal and accordingly, dismissed."

[Read the order]

K.Narayanan v. Chief Secretary, TN - Madras HC order.pdf
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