The Bombay High Court on Friday disposed off a petition seeking directives to the BMC and the state government to disclose names of all the Covid positive patients to enable contact tracing and to save others from getting infected. “Disclosing names of persons tested Covid positive could have a bad psychological impact on them,” the Maharashtra government told the High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang Kotwal, disposed of the plea filed by a law student, after her counsel Vinod Sangvikar sought permission to withdraw the plea.
Notably, the bench in an earlier hearing had impressed upon the student that disclosing names won't serve any purpose as it is solely upon every individual to keep themselves safe.
Opposing the plea, the state through Sadhana Tayde, 57, Director, Health Services, filed an affidavit citing the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), claimed it was duty bound to maintain confidentiality regarding Covid patients. "Information related to COVID-19 infection may be highly sensitive in nature with a lot of scope for stigmatization, discrimination, violence etc. Maintaining confidentiality of is important to protect the privacy of individuals and avoid any discrimination against them," the affidavit stated, while referring to ICMR directives.
The affidavit pointed out that similar confidentiality is maintained even in the cases of AIDS and Tuberculosis, or any other notifiable disease.
"We maintain confidentiality on account of Medical Ethics formulated by the Indian Medical Council. Just like the patients suffering from the dreadful diseases such as AIDS and TB deserve full sympathy, the Covid patients too deserve similar treatment. They are entitle to all respect as human being, the identity cannot and should not be disclosed, which otherwise would have a bad psychological impact upon them," the affidavit added.
On Friday, when the matter came up for hearing, the bench sought to know the stand of the petitioner's counsel, as to whether he wished to continue with the PIL or withdraw the same.
On the last hearing, the judges had ordered the petitioner to go through the judgments of the high court’s of Madras, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Kerala, which have dismissed similar petitions, with a few imposing hefty costs for filing such 'frivolous' pleas.
The petitioner, on Friday sought the court's permission to withdraw his plea and the matter was disposed of as withdrawn.