SC orders IAF, Army to pay ₹1.54 crore to veteran who contracted HIV through blood transfusion at field hospital

[ad_1]

The Supreme Court recounted how the Air veteran had received the “biggest jolt” of his life when he was informed in 2014 about his HIV infection. File

The Supreme Court recounted how the Air veteran had received the “biggest jolt” of his life when he was informed in 2014 about his HIV infection. File
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court has held the Indian Air Force and the Army liable to pay ₹ 1.54 crore in compensation to an Air veteran, who was infected with HIV virus through a blood transfusion done at a field hospital while on deployment at the border during ‘Operation Parakram’ in 2001.

Lacking in compassion

“When a young person, from either sex (as is now a days the case) enrols or joins any Armed Forces, their expectation is to be treated with dignity and honour. The present case has demonstrated again and again how dignity, honour and compassion towards the appellant (veteran) were completely lacking in the employer’s behaviour. Repeatedly the record displays a sense of disdain, and discrimination, even a hint of stigma, attached to the appellant, in the attitude of the respondent employer,” a Bench headed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat said while chastising the government in their judgment published on Wednesday.

The court recounted how the man had received the “biggest jolt” of his life when he was informed in 2014 about his infection.

Stonewalled

Justice Bhat said the case records show the man was “virtually stonewalled in his efforts to secure documents and information”.

Even the Commission of Inquiry into his case did not involve him. “The entire effort was to somehow see how the respondents (Armed Forces) could absolve themselves from liability,” the court noted.

His former employer did not even help him find an alternative employment after he took premature retirement.

The man had claimed ₹ 95.03 crore in damages.

“The IAF could certainly have taken pro-active steps to ensure that the appellant was provided with some alternative employment within its organisation or as part of the armed forces’ rehabilitation programmes for veterans and ex-servicemen. The overall result was acute mental agony caused to the appellant,” Justice Bhat wrote.

The court reminded the Armed Forces that the parliament had enacted the HIV Act to impose obligations on authorities “to take specified measures to ease and mitigate the hardships and barriers which HIV or AIDS affected persons would ordinarily face”.

“People sign up to join the armed forces with considerable enthusiasm and a sense of patriotic duty. This entails a conscious decision to put their lives on the line… A corresponding duty is cast upon all state functionaries, including echelons of power within the armed forces to ensure that the highest standards of safety (physical/mental wellbeing, medical fitness as well as wellness) are maintained,” the court observed.

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *