The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the central and Maharashtra governments why the names of coronavirus patients should be revealed, PTI reported. The court was hearing a petition filed by two persons seeking disclosure of the names to enable contact tracing and prevent others from getting infected.

A law student, Vaishnavi Gholave, and a farmer from Solapur, Mahesh Gadekar, have filed the public interest litigation. The PIL said that when the fundamental right to life and right to lead a healthy life clash with the fundamental right to privacy, it is up to the court to decide which right will better promote public morality and interest.

However, Justice AA Sayed said: “How far can one go in revealing the identity of the person who has tested positive? Privacy rights are involved. The authorities declare a particular place or building as a containment zone when someone tests positive so that people are made aware. Isnt this enough? Why do you want to know who is the person who has tested positive?”

Advocate Aditya Thakur, appearing for the Centre, argued that the names of Covid-19 patients cannot be declared as per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research. This has been done to avoid stigmatization of the patients, he added.

But the petitioners’ lawyer, Vinod Sangvikar, claimed that the ICMR has set the guidelines only for people who have died of the coronavirus. “Disclosure about the communicable diseases can be made in the public interest,” the petitioners argued. “In case of notifiable disease, the doctor is bound to disclose all the required information to authorities.”

The PIL said Maharashtra has not yet entered the community transmission stage, The Indian Express reported. “But anytime we can enter into this stage, if the government fails to declare the name of the corona patients,” it added.

After hearing the arguments, the two-judge bench posted the plea for two weeks later.

India registered a record single-day increase of 26,506 new cases on Friday morning, pushing the country’s tally to 7,93,802, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The toll in the country stood at 21,604 with 475 new fatalities. More than 4.95 lakh people have recovered.

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