No state should paste posters outside homes of COVID-19 patients unless specifically ordered under the Disaster Management Act, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday ruling in favour of a petition seeking to end the practice which caused “stigma”.
“No such guidelines were issued by the centre and it has already issued a letter to governments of states and Union Territories to not follow this practice,” the three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhuhsa, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said delivering the verdict.
The order was issued on a petition challenging the practice of pasting posters and divulging names of patients to management of housing societies and Resident Welfare Associations.
The plea said the practice was in gross violation of patient’s fundamental right to privacy, sought directions to ensure such disclosure does not take place and the states’ executive orders to this effect should be cancelled.
Though there are no instructions for pasting posters or divulging names in the Centre’s guidelines, the “reality was very different”, the counsel appearing for petitioner, advocate Kush Kalra, had told the top court.
“Such acts (of pasting posters) add to the stigma attached to the (COVID-19) disease and revelation of names fails the test of proportionality and reason,” the bench observed in its order on Wednesday.
The top court’s order came days after the central government informed that its rules “do not require such disclosures”, and all states have been informed of this fact.
The statement was in response to the court’s query if the Centre could issue an advisory.
It has already been done, said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referring to a Health Ministry affidavit presented in the court.
The practice was not prescribed by the Centre and some states might be pursuing it on their own to prevent the spread of the virus, Mr Mehta had told the court last week.