Revealing names of Covid-19 patients puts them at risk of victimisation: Bombay HC

  • | Wednesday | 29th July, 2020

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday observed that there was a risk of ostracising Covid-19 patients if their names were disclosed, as demanded by two public interest litigants.

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday observed that there was a risk of ostracising Covid-19 patients if their names were disclosed, as demanded by two public interest litigants.

“What purpose will be served by disclosing the names?” asked the bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Sarang Kotwal, during the course of hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by law student Vaishnavi Gholave and farmer Mahesh Gadekar.

In the PIL filed through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, the two petitioners contended that on several occasions, Covid-19 patients are unable to recognise and give complete information about the people they had come in contact with. This, they said, makes contact tracing an arduous task, and many possible cases fall through the cracks.

The litigants cited the example of a Covid-positive meat seller from Muraji Peth in Solapur who had come in contact with around 1,000 people.

“However, the meat seller didn’t know all his customers’ names or their whereabouts,” the plea stated.

It added that since there are about 25 meat sellers in Muraji Peth, and since the name of the infected meat seller was not disclosed, people did not know whether they had exposed themselves to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

The plea expressed concerns about the growing risk of community transmission, and argued that it is necessary to disclose the names of Covid-19 patients in a bid to make contact tracing easier and improve the chances of early detection.

The PIL cited that Maharashtra has been reporting a surge in Covid-19 positive cases even though the state government is maintaining that community transmission has not occurred yet.

Arguing on behalf of the central government, additional solicitor general Anil Singh opposed the PIL. He pointed out that four high courts have already dismissed similar petitions, and therefore the HC should not entertain the PIL.

The bench, however, posted the PIL for further hearing on Friday after Sangvikar sought time to go through the judgments. The court said that it was more important to practice personal safety. “Try to avoid congregations, wear face masks and head shields... This is what is advocated to stay safe from the infection,” the bench said.



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