Army gets notice for sacking HIV positive personnel

June 27th, 2008 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday issued a notice to the Indian Army on a petition that challenges the sacking of personnel who are HIV positive, without the mandatory approval of the army’s medical board. A bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice G.S. Singhvi issued notices to the central government and the defence ministry on a plea by a HIV positive havildar of the Indian Army’s Ordinance Corps, posted at the army’s Ordinance Depot in New Delhi.

The havildar moved the apex court, challenging his impending ouster from the army on June 30.

The bench, however, declining to stall his slated ouster, decided to hear his plea along with a similar plea by another army personnel Aug 6.

Appearing for the havildar, advocate Aagney Sail of the Human Rights Law Network contended before the bench that the army’s policy decision taken in April 2007 to oust its HIV positive personnel was a “retrograde” one.

Sail contended that his client was being sacked “on the erroneous assumption that HIV positive persons are inherently incapable of serving in the army”.

Sail pointed out that not only do armies of various western countries, including those of the US and Canada, allow HIV positive personnel to serve, but also lets them go to the battle front.

He submitted to the bench a copy of a March 2008 ruling of the South African High Court, which had struck down a government decision against letting HIV positive personnel serve in its army.

“It is the prejudice against the positive status that is the foundation of the notion that HIV positive persons are inherently unable to serve in the army,” Sail contended.

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