21 Nov 2023 9:00 AM GMT
The Principal Secretary of Revenue Department, Tinku Biswal, informed the Kerala High Court recently that Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) portal has been redesigned to have a page exclusively for the HIV infected persons, which would exclusively be within the control of the concerned District Collectors or their authorized officers, in a bid to ensure the privacy of...
The Principal Secretary of Revenue Department, Tinku Biswal, informed the Kerala High Court recently that Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) portal has been redesigned to have a page exclusively for the HIV infected persons, which would exclusively be within the control of the concerned District Collectors or their authorized officers, in a bid to ensure the privacy of such applicants.
The development comes in a plea alleging that in order to avail the benefit of a Government Order granting HIV infected persons Rs. 6,000/- largesse every 6 months, the applicants who often below to the lowest income strata of society, would have to take the assistance of platforms such as Akshaya Centre for uploading their applications and medical documents, which leads to breach of their confidentiality and privacy.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran was further told that a person could now apply on the portal with their Medical-cum-Life Certificate issued by a competent Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) Centre, and that the District Collector or authorized officer would then verify the same, and send the documents to the concerned ART Centre for authentication.
Biswal said that once the ART Centre authenticates the certificates, issued by them, the file would be sent back to the District Collector (or authorised officer), who would thereupon make their recommendation and forward the same to the Finance Department for payment. She explained that the Finance Department would in turn, make the necessary enquiries in strict confidentiality, and disburse the amounts to the beneficiary as per the financial outplay and budgetary proposals.
Biswal expressed that the portal had been redesigned with the singular intent of ensuring that the details of the applicants would not be available to anyone other than the authorized officers.
The Court noted that the present set-up would enable a patient to remain in the privacy of their home, and upload their application and certificates without seeking the assistance of another.
Hailing the steps taken as a 'pioneering initiative' for ensuring the confidentiality and privacy of HIV infected persons, Justice Ramachandran said:
"Certainly, this is a welcome step in insuring that apprehension of the patients of HIV – who are already reeling under the rigour of medical and social burden and inhibitions – are allayed".
The Court also reminded that its fundamental imperative is to ensure that the patients of HIV are not exposed to unwanted attention, or breach of privacy, at any level, taking note of the internationally accepted protocols in this regard.
It was therefore of the view that the portal ought to be made operatve within the shortest possible time, to which Biswal replied that while the portal had already been created, the completion of the process would require another month.
The Court thus adjourned the matter for further consideration on December 11, 2023.
Advocate Sandhya Raju appears on behalf of the petitioner in the present case.
Case Title: XXX v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Case Number: W.P.(C).No. 231 of 2023
Click Here To Read/Download The Order