AIDS bill put on fast track

Non profits object to provisions in the changed draft

By Bharat Lal Seth
Published: Thursday 31 December 2009

DownToEarthnon-profits have demanded the restoration of the original provisions of the hiv/aids bill even as Congress leader Oscar Fernandes indicated the bill would be tabled in the next session of the House. Fernandes is the convener of the Parliamentarians Forum on hiv/aids.

The original bill, drafted by the Union health ministry in 2006, has been changed thrice; as many as 43 of the 123 provisions have been dropped in the past three years, said Pradeep Dutta, member of the National Coalition on the hiv/aids bill. The coalition has on board 72 non-profits that work with people living with hiv/aids.Though some provisions including those that address the vulnerability of children have been reinstated in the current fourth draft, there are many that have been omitted. The latest draft does not provide for an ombudsman who has quasi-judicial authority to impose legal penalties and intercede on behalf of patients. The coalition is also irked by certain provisions in the current draft; such as the one that provides for surveillance of hiv infected people and their segregation.

Sushma Cornelius of the non-profit World Vision India said the bill needs to be fast-tracked as people living with hiv/aids have no legal protection. But the law ministry is going beyond its mandate by deleting important provisions mentioned in the original draft, said Raman Chawla of Lawyers Collective who has been fighting for the enactment of the bill.

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