Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust v. Union of India – Supreme Court of India
In 1999, the Lawyers Collective through the Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, Mumbai, filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court seeking to address barriers that prevented the access of people living with HIV (PLHIV) to health care services, especially discrimination faced by people living with HIV in hospitals. As the National AIDS Control Programme progressed with the introduction of anti-retroviral therapy in 2004, this PIL has been sought to be used as an oversight mechanism for the National ARV Rollout Programme and a number of issues affecting access to treatment have been addressed. To date, significant progress has been made through three major orders passed by the Court.
In 2008, Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, at the request of the Court, filed the directions that it sought from the Court with the justifications for the same. After a series of meetings between the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), people living with HIV, the Office of the Solicitor General of India and the Lawyers Collective, fourteen points were agreed upon and then endorsed by the Supreme Court in the first major order that was achieved in the case. The Supreme Court order included:
- rapid upscale of ART centres and Link ART centres;
- increasing the number of CD4 machines and ensuring their maintenance in a timely and efficient manner;
- ensuring adequate infrastructure in ART centres – adequate seating space, clean toilets and safe drinking water;
- creation of a grievance redressal mechanism by the institution of a complaint box in every ART Centre and appointment of Nodal Officers to review the complains as well as through the creation of a State Level Grievance Redressal Mechanism.
- provision of free treatment for opportunistic infections;
- ensuring the non-discrimination of people with HIV in heath care settings;
- ensuring availability of universal precautions and post exposure prophylaxis for health care providers in public hospitals
Read the directions with justifications sought from the Court HERE.
Read the full text of the Order HERE
Read the status report filed by NACO in 2009 HERE.
The next major order came in 2010, in response to the plea raised by NACO that private doctors were not following its protocol regarding the prescription of ARVs, often leading to irrational prescription of ARVs. The Court endorsed NACO’s Office Memorandum as an order, requiring all private doctors to follow NACO’s protocol while prescribing ARVs. All private doctors and hospitals were further asked to submit information regarding the number of persons that were on first line treat, second line treatment and those who were on an irrational prescription.
Read the full text of the order HERE.
An application was then filed challenging NACO guidelines which limited the provision of second line ARV treatment to four categories of persons – widows, children, those below the poverty line and those who had been on first line ARVs in the Government Programme for two years previously. The Guidelines where challenged as being in violation of Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life including the right to health). After clear indication from the Court that such a scheme was impermissible in our constitutional scheme of things and a series of discussions, NACO agreed that second line would be provided to all those PLHIV who need it, irrespective of other criteria marking a major breakthrough in the provision of universal access to treatment.
Read the full text of the order HERE.
Read the status report on the availability of second line drugs filed by NACO HERE.
Karnataka Network for People living with HIV/AIDS (KNP+) v. Mr. Balachandra K Pagali Nayak and Others – Karnataka High Court (WP NO.8852/2006(GM)RES)
This Public Interest Litigation was filed by the Lawyers Collective through the Karnataka Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (KNP+), against four individuals claiming to have a cure for HIV/AIDS. Through advertisements, web sites and pamphlets, these individuals were advertising and selling medicines that allegedly cured HIV/AIDS and thereby misleading and inducing people living with HIV. KNP+ argued that such claims violate the fundamental rights of the PLHIVs guaranteed under Article 21(the right to life including the right to health) of the Constitution,
On 27th March 2007, the Karnataka High Court granted an interim order:
- Restraining the four individuals from issuing or publishing any advertisements, broachers, pamphlets, press releases or any other information or material including putting up of a web site or any other information on the internet, claiming to have a cure or treatment for HIV/AIDS.
- Further restraining the four individuals from manufacturing, selling, distributing, marketing drugs claiming to provide treatment or cure HIV/AIDS.
- The Department of Health of the State of Karnataka and the Drug Controller, Bangalore were directed to keep vigil against false propaganda or publication regarding the treatment or cure for HIV/AIDS.
- The Drug Controller General of India to pursue and proceed with criminal proceedings or actions already initiated against the four individuals.
Read the full text of the Interim Order of the Court HERE.
The President, National Anti-Corruption and Crime Preventive Council, Mumbai v. The Superintendent, Children’s Observation Home, Dongri, Bombay and Ors. (PIL 152 of 2004) – Bombay High Court
In 2004 the President of National Anti-Corruption and Crime Preventive Council, Mumbai wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court highlighting the plight of children in Homes for Children run by the State with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). This letter was converted into public interest litigation by the then Chief Justice.
The CAS, as managed and governed by the State Government, was established, amongst other things, to carry out activities relating to child welfare and child development, to maintain observation homes and other institutions for children. The CAS has 9 institutions under its control and management. In 7 of these homes, approximately 2,500 disadvantaged children are housed through out the year.
The Bombay High Court by its order dated 4th July 2007, directed the Assistant General Pleader and the Counsel for the Petitioner, that is, Senior Advocate Mr. Anand Grover, to visit the 7 Homes of the CAS including its Accounts Office and submit a joint report. The said detailed joint report was then filed in August 2009.
Read the full text of the order HERE
Read the full text of the report submitted HERE
Recently, the matter was heard by the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, who noted the absence of compliance and/or Action Taken Report. The Petitioners also pointed out the vacancy in the post of the Chairman and the Governing Council. Under these circumstances the High Court directed the Government, i.e. officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary of the Government of Maharashtra, Women and Children Welfare Department to file “Action Taken Report” by 31st December 2011. Additionally, the Court directed the State Government to address the question of vacancies in the Office of the Chairman and other committee members of the Children Aid Society by 31st August 2011.
Read the full text of the order HERE