The Supreme Court clarified on Wednesday that State governments and Union Territories are not required to paste posters outside the homes of quarantined COVID-19 patients.
“No State or Union Territory is required to paste posters outside the residence of COVID-19 positive persons, as of now. The State Governments and Union Territories can resort the above exercise only when any direction is issued by the competent authority under the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan cleared the air on the issue in a 11-page order.
Th order came on a petition filed by advocate Kush Kulra, who said s uch posters entail the violation of the fundamental right to privacy of patients . Mr. Kalra had argued that these placards divulge, even "widely publicise" the names of the patients and other details to strangers, other residents in the colony or apartment complex as well as household staff of neighbours, vendors, passers-by, etc.
In its order, the Bench referred to the Centre’s submission that its guidelines on home isolation for patients have no mention of pasting posters outside their residences. The government had referred to its ‘Revised guidelines for Home Isolation of very mild/pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic COVID-19 cases’ in July in this regard.
“Neither any such direction has been issued by the Government of India nor it is obligatory to any State or Union Territory to paste the posters outside the residences of COVID19 positive persons,” the Bench reproduced the submission made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, in its order.
The Centre had further said that its letter of November 19 to States and Union Territories also does not contain any instruction or guidance regarding affixing posters or other signage outside the residences of those found COVID-19 patients.
The court noted that both the Delhi and Punjab governments have already withdrawn their orders to paste posters. The apex court also noted how the Delhi government had made a submission to this extent in the Delhi High Court and even said the existing posters would be removed.