The Delhi High Court on Wednesday termed ‘blatant discrimination’ the conduct of two government hospitals and their doctors in Delhi for not recording the HIV positive status of a patient who went to the hospital for treatment for injuries suffered in an accident.
A bench of justices S Ravidra Bhat and AK Chawla directed the Delhi government to set up an enquiry panel with medical superintendent of the hospitals as well as members from Health Department and National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
It aimed that the committee should be set up in two weeks and it shall finish its enquiry and give a report within three months.
The bench said the patient in question, if aggrieved by panel’s decision, may go to 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 for denial of treatment by them.
The allegation was denied by the hospital authorities as they claimed that the treatment was provided to the petitioner, but was not satisfied.
Taking note of the submissions made by the petitioner, suffering from AIDS from 1995, and after perusing his medical reports, 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 stated that the man may not have disclosed his condition initially, 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 further asked the hospitals and the Delhi government what facilities are provided to someone like the petitioner when they suffer an accident.
The petitioner, was employed in the Delhi State Aids Control Society (DSACS) as a counsellor.
He further alleged that due to the discrimination and denial of treatment by the two hospitals he had to get operated at a private hospital and sought reimbursement of his medical expenses.
The petitioner had approached the hospitals for treatment of his left shoulder and left leg following an accident in August 2017.