Delhi High Court: In a case, wherein a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by various homeless and displaced persons suffering from HIV/AIDS, the Division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ. and Subramonium Prasad, J. held that the Government should ensure strict compliance of the statutory provisions under the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 and directed the Government to ensure free food and medical treatment to HIV/AIDS patients who were below the poverty line and were unable to afford the same.
The petitioners were suffering from HIV/AIDS and other multiple disabilities and ailments and because of the stigma attached to the HIV/AIDS infection, the petitioners were abandoned by their families, and thus, had no shelter. The petitioners prayed for ‘housing, safety, well-being, food, hot cooked meals, 24-hour hospice, caregivers as well as counselling’ for HIV/AIDS patients along with directions to the Centre to expeditiously decide on all required policies and schemes at national and state level for food security, permanent housing, and shelter for patients at terminal stage.
Respondent 4 (Ministry of Urban Development & Poverty Alleviation) stated that they had no specific scheme targeted towards rehabilitating HIV/AIDS positive persons, and, therefore, no relief could be claimed for allotment of a house/shelter. Further, Respondent 6 (GNCTD) stated that a National AIDS Control Programme was being implemented in Delhi since 1998 by the ‘Delhi State AIDS Society’ under the technical and financial support of National AIDS Control Organization, Government of India.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court noted the Status Report filed on behalf of GNCTD which placed on record the various rehabilitative schemes floated, and measures taken by the GNCTD to provide aid and assistance to ameliorate the conditions of patients who were HIV positive. The schemes were targeted towards providing free Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) to the patients and granting financial assistance to persons affected with HIV/AIDS, children suffering from HIV/AIDS. The Court also noted that another scheme titled ‘Travel concession scheme for People living with HIV (PLHIVS)/Children living with HIV (CLHIV) for people/children infected with HIV, attending the ART centers in Delhi for undertaking visits to the ART centers had also been implemented by the GNCTD.
Moreover, the Court noted that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 (Act) had been implemented in 2018 to establish a robust system to deal with grievances of affected persons. Therefore, this Court after considering various schemes being implemented by GNCTD held that the GNCTD was ensuring strict compliance under the statutory provisions of the Act and had taken all the possible steps to ensure that affordable treatment was available to individuals afflicted with HIV/AIDS and who were not financially capable to afford it.
The Court held that the Government should ensure strict compliance of the statutory provisions under the Act and directed the Government to ensure free food and medical treatment to HIV positive persons who were below the poverty line and hence, were unable to afford the same.
[Girish v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 4653, decided on 20-12-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Respondent(s): ASC Gautam Narayan;
CGSC Manisha Agrawal Narain;
Advocate Asmita Singh;
Advocate Sandeep Singh Samaria;
Advocate Rakshita Goyal.