THE Orissa High Court, in an interim order, on Thursday directed the Odisha Government to ensure that identity of any person, who is admitted to COVID centres-any Government Hospital/private Hospital or any Quarantine centre in the State, found infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not disclosed/publicized either in any intra-departmental communication or in any media platform including social media.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Ananga Kumar Otta alleging that several cases have been reported in the State of Orissa where the identity of the persons who test positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are under treatment in Government Hospitals/other Hospitals or are under quarantine in various Quarantine Centres, had been publicized/disclosed in intra-departmental communications and various media platforms including social media, much contrary to the advisory issued by the Government of India.
Petitioner contended that the disclosure of the identity of the patient suffering from the attack of Coronavirus leads to devastating consequences. He added that the Country is awash with digital platforms of all hues and opinions that operate without constraints and have the potential to cause far more damage. He alleged that it seems that the Government itself has a dual stand.
“Several cases have been reported of the people affected with COVID-19 as well as healthcare workers, sanitary workers and Police, who are in the frontline for management of the outbreak, facing discrimination on account of heightened fear and misinformation about the peculiar manner of infection”, the petitioner said.
Petitioner also made reference to an incident wherein a 37- year-old man hanged himself to death in Una district of Himachal Pradesh. Some villagers, suspected him to be suffering from COVID-19 despite testing negative for it and he was dropped at his residence by the health officials from the quarantine centre.
A division bench of the Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice B.R. Sarangi also issued notice to the Central Government and the State Government seeking their reply. The matter is listed for hearing on June 4