Isolation of Persons Diagnosed with Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
In December 2011, 15 persons in Maharashtra were diagnosed with a form of TB which was unresponsive to all first line and second line drugs. In the days thereafter, there was major concern about the treatment of these persons and also concern to ensure that this resistant form of TB does not spread. One of the responses considered by the Government was placing these persons in isolation facilities. The Lawyers Collective wrote to the Head of the TB Control Programme (RNTCP), submitting that such an approach would violate the fundamental rights to liberty, autonomy and the freedom of movement of persons sought to be isolated, and highlighting evidence of the success of community-based, ambulatory models of treating drug resistant TB. Read the full text of the letter HERE.
Read the Reply of the State T.B. Office of Maharashtra, stating that the government would not follow a policy of isolation in the case of Drug Resistent T.B. HERE
Joint Civil Society Campaign on NACP-IV
In early 2011, the Government initiated the process of developing the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) that will define the national response to HIV over the next five years. Early indications suggested no evident plans for consultation and involvement of civil society in the formulation of NACP-IV. This led a group of civil society organsations, including the Lawyers Collective, to issue a memorandum to NACO, calling for the inclusion of civil society as an equal partner in the process of developing NACP-IV. Read the full text of the memorandum HERE.
The concern about the lack of transparency in the process led to a larger meeting being organised on 12th May 2011 in New Delhi. The meeting saw the participation of over 90 representatives from civil society and networks of people living with HIV and most-at-risk populations. A resolution was issued, expressing concern about the non-inclusion of civil society and calling on NACO to ensure wider consultation in the process of the formulation of NACP-IV. At the meeting, a caucus was nominated to negotiate with NACO and keep a monitoring and oversight role over the formulation of NACP-IV. Read the full text of the resolution HERE.
In response to the pressure, NACO agreed to partner with civil society and hold five regional consultations jointly in the North, Noth-East, South, West and East of India. As a part of the process, the Lawyers Collective developed a briefing document outlining the right to health framework on which the NACPIV ought to be premised.
Read the report of the regional consultations HERE.
Read the briefing document on the rights based approach HERE.
Consultation on the National ARV Rollout Programme, Bhubaneshwar
Since its launch in April 2004, the Government has, through the National ARV Programme, been providing care, support and treatment services to people living with HIV. Over the years a number of problems, relating to access of people living with HIV to the Programme, have sought to be addressed both through advocacy as well as litigation, however many issues still remain. With an objective of identifying strategies to address these issues faced by people living with HIV with regard to the Rollout Programme, the Lawyers Collective organised a National Consultation on the ARV Rollout Programme in Bhubaneswar in June 2011. Read the full report of the consultation HERE
Submissions on National Policy for Children, 2010
In January 2011, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, sought to revise the National Policy for Children, 1974 and held national consultations on its proposed National Policy for Children, 2010 with government officials, civil society and other ministries of the government. The Lawyers Collective participated in the consultation for northern states in Lucknow and subsequently made written submissions to the Ministry regarding the draft policy.
Read the Draft National Policy for Children, 2010 HERE
Read the full text of the submissions HERE
Mandatory Testing of Foreign Students for HIV
The Lawyers Collective, in May 2011, wrote to the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi objecting to their policy requiring all foreign students enrolling in the University to undergo HIV testing and asked them to remove the requirement with immediate effect as such a policy requiring mandatory testing of persons violated a person’s fundamental rights and was contrary to established law and policy.
Lawyers Collective received a reply dated 30th September 2013 from NITK, Surathkal informing us that they have modified the Section on medical examination and uploaded new brouchers on 30th July 2013. The new /modified section states that: “The candidates, in their own interest, are advised to ensure that they are medically fit to pursue the prescribed course of study. The candidates would be required to submit the Medical Certificate from an Authorised Medical Practitioner in their home country or India for General Fitness. Alternatively the candidate would be required to undergo a Medical Fitness test at the time of reporting at concerned Institute. Please note that if the candidate is not medically fit, his/ her admission is likely to be rejected.”
Director NIT’s, Ministry of Human Resource Development Department of Higher Education sent a letter dated 5th November 2013 to NIKT, Surathkal, Karnataka instructing them that they need to strictly adhere to instructions regarding HIV testing given by Ministry of Home affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under DASA Scheme.
Lawyers Collective also received a letter dated 6th December 2013, written by the Director NIT’s, Ministry of Human Resource Development Department of Higher Education informing the Assistant Director General (ME), Ministry of health and family that they have issued directions to NIKT Surathkal.
Read the full text of the letter HERE
Read the 3 replies from Jamia University agreeing to remove the policy –
REPLY 3. .
Pre-marital Mandatory Testing for HIV
An often recurring debate in the country has been whether an HIV test should be made mandatory prior to marriage. The Lawyers Collective has made submissions to various state governments arguing that pre-marital mandatory testing would not be successful in preventing transmission of HIV at an individual level and instead would adversely impact and damage the National AIDS Control Programme at a public health level. The policy focus must instead be on addressing gender biased social and cultural norms and reducing gender inequities both outside and within marriages. Ensuring economic and social autonomy of women will increase their ability to negotiate safe sexual activities. The submissions have been published in the form of a newsletter which can be read HERE.
Summary of Important Cases on HIV
The widespread discrimination, stigmatisation and violation of rights that people living with HIV face have necessitated a judicial response. At the same time, the urgency of tackling HIV has opened an opportunity to correct shortcomings of the system. Both these have led to a string of judgments. The Lawyers Collective has compiled some of the significant cases in the context of HIV/AIDS, both Indian and international, some of which lay down principles of common law that are applicable in the context of HIV and some which deal with HIV and AIDS directly. Click HERE for the compilation of judgments.