NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today termed as “blatant discrimination” the conduct of two government hospitals in Delhi and their doctors for not recording the HIV positive status of an AIDS patient who went there for treatment for injuries suffered in an accident.
Frowning upon the conduct, a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla directed the Delhi government to set up an enquiry panel consisting of the medical superintendent of the hospitals as well as a representative each from the Health Department and National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
It directed that the committee be set up in two weeks from today and it shall complete its enquiry and give a report within three months.
The bench said the patient in question, if aggrieved by the panel’s decision, may approach the court again.
With the directions, the court disposed of the plea which had challenged a single judge order of October last year which had declined to entertain the matter on the ground that it involved disputed questions of fact.
The patient, in his appeal filed through advocate Sija Nair Pal, claimed discrimination by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) and Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial hospitals and their doctors concerned as well as denial of treatment by them.
Taking note of the submissions made by the petitioner, suffering from AIDS since 1995, and after perusing his medical records, the court said what is “discernible” was that “none of the hospitals which appellant approached have cared to record his HIV status”.
“This is a blatant instance of discrimination. There is not a single slip of paper which records his HIV status. He has been counselling AIDS patients. Would he be so foolish to not disclose his condition,” the court asked.
The bench said that initially the man may not have disclosed his condition, but it was “inconceivable that being an AIDS patient for 23 years he would have withheld the information, especially when it would have long term detrimental consequences for him”.
The court also asked the hospitals and the Delhi government what facilities are provided to someone like the petitioner when they suffer an accident.
The petitioner, according to his plea, was contractually employed in the Delhi State Aids Control Society (DSACS) as a counsellor.
He had alleged that due to the discrimination and denial of treatment by the two hospitals he had to get treated, which included undergoing surgery, at a private hospital and sought reimbursement of his medical expenses.
The petitioner had approached the hospitals for treatment of his left leg and left shoulder after meeting with an accident in August last year.