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HC asks government to look for ways to reinstate HIV+ officer

The officer was removed from service after he failed to clear departmental exam.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai |
April 22, 2015 2:10:39 am
HC, Bombay high court, HIV, HIV+, social stigma, MAT, mumbai news, city news, local news, mumbai newsline The HC further said he could be accommodated at a lower position also.

Observing that “HIV has social stigma attached to it”, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to look into accommodating a state government officer, who is HIV+, in another position since his services had been terminated after he failed to clear a departmental examination.

Justices Anoop Mohta and K R Shriram were hearing a writ petition filed by an officer through his lawyer Nikhilesh Dilip Pote, seeking directions to be issued to the state government and his departmental authorities concerned, to take him back or assign him any other work according to his capacity since he was the only earning member and “his wife, also HIV+, and his daughter are dependent on him”.

The state government had earlier stated in an affidavit that “the petitioner is mixing facts of his HIV illness with the failure in department exams and alleging discrimination to create sympathy for him and hide his failure”.

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The HC, while observing that HIV had a stigma attached to it, said, “What can be done to accommodate him somewhere else for his and his family’s survival? The state government should take instructions on this along with the petitioner’s lawyer,” the court added.The HC further said he could be accommodated at a lower position also.

In an earlier hearing, the court had said that the petitioner’s case could “be considered as exceptional in view of the ailment he is suffering from” and had directed that he not be evicted till the next date of hearing.

The petitioner had been in government service since September 30, 2003, but failed to pass the departmental examination in 2012, “even though the examination should have been held within two years from service”. Thereafter, he was sent a showcause notice in July 2013 on why his service should not be terminated. He replied stating he and his wife were seriously ill and so he might be considered as an “exceptional circumstances”.

While the officer and his wife were diagnosed with HIV before the the showcause notice was served to them, he did not disclose the fact “because of constant fear of social stigma,” stated his petition. He could not gather courage and was under tremendous mental stress due to the health condition of his wife and him, it further stated.

After his services were terminated, the officer filed an appeal before the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) in Mumbai, where he argued that his appointing authority was not the person who had issued orders of his termination. His appeal said that as exceptional circumstances, his services may not be terminated and pleaded for reinstatement on humanitarian grounds. This appeal, however, was dismissed by MAT after which the officer moved the HC.

ruhi.bhasin@expressindia.com

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