MUMBAI: Contending that public health takes precedence of privacy rights, a new public interest litigation (PIL) has sought directions from Bombay high court to ensure “disclosure of names of corona infected patients” to enable contact tracing and to save others from being infected.
The PIL seeks to invoke the fundamental right to life as a higher right when there is a clash of two such rights. It says when right to privacy and right to lead a healthy life hit a cross road, the right of way ought to be given by the court to the “right which would advance public morality and public interest.’’
India has not reached the third stage, according to state information, it said, but it can do so “anytime’’ if the government fails to declare the names of Corona patients. Naming can help contact tracing and alert others who may have had contact to quarantine themselves.
The PIL filed through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, by a 23-year-old student of Government Law Colleges, Vaishnavi Gholave and a 40-year-old farmer from Solapur, Mahesh Gadekar questioned the absence of names of patients being made public ever since the first lockdown was enforced on March 24, almost two weeks after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
The PIL is expected to be heard on Friday.
It cites the advice given by Centre for Disease Control (CDC) which in the US has asked old aged residents to stay home in areas of community outbreak and also the guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which speaks of “confidentiality’’. But these guidelines they say appear to be limited to ‘research’ as it said “maintaining confidentiality of research related data and its publication is important to protect the privacy of individuals and to avoid any discrimination against them.’’
Apart from the ICMR guidelines, the PIL said no other express provision to maintain confidentiality of patients name, is found and sought a special system be evolved by the state to ensure names are disclosed to help curtail the spread and not to be a source of discrimination.

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