Putting up posters outside the residences of of COVID-19 positive patients is not required. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court directed the State and Union Territory Governments to resort to these measures only if instructions were given by competent authorities.
The order was given by a Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah while addressing a petition brought by Kush Kalra opposing the decision of various State governments under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 to display posters outside the residences of COVID-19 positive patients who are in quarantine. Previously, during the case’s hearing, the bench held that this practice of government authorities affixing posters outside the homes of COVID-19 positive patients was resulting into the “stigmatisation of such persons.”
These concerns were found despite the Central government assuaging the Court that State authorities do not compulsorily have to affix such posters. Counsel for the Central Government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that these posters intended to prevent people from inadvertently entering the house of a COVID positive patient.
Filed through advocates Chinmoy Sharma and Puneet Taneja, this petition requested directions to be issued to States to do the necessary and ensure that such disclosure of names is prevented. The PIL also requested the Court to quash the executive orders of the States and Union Territories that permitted affixing these posters outside patients’ residences. The petition submitted that such circulation of patient’s names on WhatsApp groups and social media is an infringement of their fundamental right of privacy and the right to live with dignity as protected by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The mental trauma and weakness that COVID positive patients go through was emphasised by the petitioners. They argued that the addition of “stigmatisation by the members of neighbourhood and community” would only increase their troubles.
Additionally, the plea stated that such public announcement posters would turn COVID-19 patients into the talk of the community and a topic of unnecessary “idle gossip”.