What purpose served by disclosing names of virus patients? HC

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said if a person takes all necessary precautions, then he or she need not worry about contracting COVID-19, and asked what purpose would be served by disclosing the names of persons who tested positive for the disease.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang Kotwal was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by two persons, seeking disclosure of names of COVID-19 patientsto enable contact tracing and to save others from being infected.

The PIL, filed by law student Vaishnavi Gholave and Solapur-based farmer Mahesh Gadekar, claimed the fundamental right to life and the right to lead a healthy life stand above the fundamental right to privacy in the present situation where public interest and morality are important.

The high court, however, asked what purpose would be served by disclosing the names of COVID-19 patients.

“There is always a risk of ostracisation, Chief Justice Datta pointed out.

“Everything depends on each person…if a person takes necessary precautions like avoiding congregations, washing hands, using head shields and sanitisers, then the person is at a lesser risk of being infected, he said.

The court further said when people come in contact with a person who they know has later tested positive for COVID-19, then they know that they should also get themselves tested or look out for symptoms.

But then there are persons who are asymptomatic or are silent carriers of coronavirus. With such persons, people tend to get a bit complacent and meet them and talk to them without masks, the court said.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Union government, told the court that there are judgments passed by high courts of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Madras and Orissa dismissing similar pleas seeking disclosure of the names of COVID-19 patients.

The bench directed the petitioners advocate Yashodeep Deshmukh to peruse those judgments and posted the matter for further hearing next week.

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