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 othersfrom being infected.
The PIL, filed by law student Vaishnavi Gholave andSolapur-based farmer Mahesh Gadekar, claimed the fundamental right to life and the right to lead a healthy life stand abovethe 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, washinghands, 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 forCOVID-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 re silent carriers of coronavirus. With such persons, peopletend 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 judgmentspassed by high courts of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Madras and Orissa dismissing similar pleas seeking disclosure of thenames of COVID-19 patients.
The bench directed the petitioners advocate YashodeepDeshmukh to peruse those judgments and posted the matter for further hearing next week.