SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
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Rajendra Babu, J. -
(1.)Civil Appeal No. 4641 of 1996 arose out of an order made by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (for short the Commission) dismissing a petition and also an application for interim relief summarily by an order made on 3-7-1998 on the ground that the appellant should seek his remedy in a civil Court.
(2.)The case that arose for consideration before this Court, in brief, is as follows :
The appellant completed his studies leading to Degree of MBBS from Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh in the year 1988. In June, 1990 he joined the Nagaland State Medical and Health Service as Assistant Surgeon Grade-I and thereafter he was selected for admission to MD, Pharmacology. However, he was continued in service on the condition that he would join his duties after completing his studies. Later on, he was given admission in Diploma in Opthamalogy in September 1991 and he completed that course in April 1993 and rejoined his service in the Nagaland State as Assistant Surgeon Grade-I as Junior Specialist. He was deputed to accompany his uncle who was a Minister of Transport and Communication to the respondent-Hospital at Chennai and who was diagnosed as suffering from Aortic Anuorism. As the patient was anaemic, the surgery was postponed. The appellant and his driver offered to donate blood and blood samples of the appellant were sent for testing. In the meanwhile, the patient was operated upon for Aortic Anuorism and was discharged from the hospital on 10-6-1996 and the appellant and his driver took him to Dimapur. The appellant was engaged to be married which was scheduled to be held on 12-12-1995. The appellant, his fiancee and his mother-in-law left for Darjeeling and Kolkatta to do some shopping and thereafter on 18-10-1995 they returned to Kohima. On 12-11-1995 the Minister of Transport and Communication called the appellants brother-in-law and sister to his residence and informed that the appellants marriage was being called off; that the appellants blood was tested at hospital; that it was found to be HIV positive; that this information had been furnished to him by a Doctor [who was impleaded as respondent No. 2]; that he had of his own accord reconfirmed the appellants HIV status by personally calling the respondent No. 2 and was informed by him of the same. Therefore, the marriage of the appellant was called off on account of his HIV positive status by his brother-in-law. Next day the appellant went to the hospital for further confirmation and it was confirmed that he was HIV positive. The appellant tried to contact the Director of the Hospital to enquire about the unauthorised disclosure by the hospital about his HIV status as he was unable to obtain any information from the management regarding the said disclosure. As a result thereof, he was forced to leave Kohima as several people including the appellants own family members and certain other members of the community were now aware of the appellants HIV positive status and he was socially ostracised. Aggrieved by the unauthorised disclosure and on the basis that the hospital had a duty to maintain the confidentiality of personal medical information of the appellant, he filed a petition before the Commission seeking compensation from the respondents for breach of their duty to maintain confidentiality and consequential discrimination, loss in earnings and social ostracism. For interim relief an interlocutory application was also filed. In those circumstances, the Commission dismissed the petition summarily and directed him to initiate civil proceeding for an appropriate relief.
(3.)A Special Leave Petition was filed before this Court. This Court made an order on 21-9-1988 dismissing the said petition. However, in the course of the order several findings have been given, particularly those relating to "suspended right to marry". In that proceeding, this Court heard only the appellant and there was no issue of notice to any other person nor this Court had occasion to hear any of the persons representing the HIV or AIDS infected persons or their rights, much less any of the Non-Government Organisations which are doing work in the field were heard. In those circumstances, a writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution before this Court for setting aside the said judgment. However, in the proceedings dated 7-2-2000 it was noted that prayer was deleted and the other prayer which indirectly concerned the correctness of the judgment already passed was also deleted. However, the petition was ordered to be treated as an application for clarification or directions in the case already decided by this Court. In the course of the order it was observed that :
"We direct the office shall not treat this as a writ petition filed under Article 32, but shall register it separately as an IA for clarification/directions in C.A. N. 4641/1998.
Notice of this IA returnable within two weeks shall be issued to National Aids Control Organisation. Union of India and Indian Medical Association which is already represented in IA Nos. 2-3-. Notice shall also go to Medical Council of India. Dasti service is permitted in addition."
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