The Supreme Court on Wednesday (9th December, 2020) held that affixing of COVID-19 posters outside the homes of patients can be done only if there is a direction from the competent authority under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai & MR Shah disposed off the writ petition which had challenged the decision of various states Governments to affix posters outside the homes of COVID19 patients who are in isolation, after it reserved orders in the plea on December 3, 2020. On the last date, bench had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre whether an advisory can be issued in this regard by the Centre so that a State is dissuaded by pasting posters on walls of covid positive patients homes. On December 1, 2020 the top court had observed that the practice of conspicuously affixing posters outside the residence of COVID19 positive patients creates stigma and often leads to a situation where patients may be treated as so called untouchables.
The hard reality is that many such patients are treated like untouchable, Justice MR Shah also remarked. The PIL has challenged the affixing of posters outside the homes of COVID-19 patients as a mark of identification, as well as divulging names of such patients to housing societies' management and Resident Welfare Associations, saying such disclosure of the identity of patients is in gross violation of their fundamental right to privacy. The plea had further sought directions to ensure such disclosure of names does not take place and has prayed for quashing of the executive orders of the States and Union Territories that allow affixing of posters outside homes of the COVID-19 patients. [READ JUDGMENT]