High Court seeks reply on plea of man who ‘got HIV while working at govt hospital’
The Delhi High Court has directed eight authorities to file replies within three weeks detailing how a government hospital employee contracted HIV virus while at work. The authorities that have been asked to do so include the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Social Welfare, National Aids Control Organisation, Delhi Aids Control Society, Government of NCT of Delhi, M/s B K Enterprises, and a government institute.
Ashok Agarwal, counsel for the petitioner, had earlier submitted a plea stating that the petitioner had been working as an assistant technician at a laboratory in a government hospital since April 2011, during which he suffered a few needle prick injuries. The authorities did not take it seriously, the counsel alleged, adding that the hospital did not even provide Post Exposure Prophylaxix (PEP) medication to its employees to prevent AIDS.
On January 6, 2016, he underwent a blood test and discovered that he was HIV-positive.
A second opinion also confirmed the diagnosis. When he reported for the job after two days, the authorities terminated him from the job citing his condition, it is alleged. His subsequent representations to the authorities met with no result. He then underwent another test for HIV at AIIMS, which re-confirmed the status, the counsel said. The man then filed a petition against the “illegal termination” in the Delhi High Court, which was dismissed by a single-judge bench in November 2016.
After that, he filed an appeal before a division bench saying that the court had failed to protect his fundamental right to life. While refusing to elaborate on the plea to revoke termination at the present stage,the court had then directed the Union government to ensure that he was provided proper medical facilities.
When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, a bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli observed that the earlier single-judge order had dismissed his petition without seeking a reply from the authorities.
If the man had contracted HIV during his tenure at the hospital, the court could grant him compensation, the bench said. When it was pointed to the court that the man had asked for reinstatement, the bench said the court could modify its order.