The Petitioner, Mr. X, was an armed reserve police constable. In 2003, he applied for the post of stipendiary trainee cadet sub-inspector of police (civil). He qualified in the physical tests and passed the written exam in 2004. On this basis, he was provisionally selected for the post. However, after undergoing a medical examination, he tested positive for HIV. According to the Petitioner, he was not sent for training because he was HIV-positive, although he continued serving in the armed reserve police force. The Respondent, the Police Recruitment Board, relied on Order 70(3) of the Andhra Pradesh Revised Police Manual which requires candidates to undergo HIV testing and renders HIV-positive persons ineligible for recruitment/appointment. The Petitioner sought a declaration that Order 70 (3) violated the Indian Constitution.
Decision and Reasoning
The High Court of the State of Andhra Pradesh held that Order 70(3) was unconstitutional. The Court held that HIV-positive status alone was not a basis for denial of employment and that a person who was otherwise fit, qualified and posed no substantial risk to others could not be denied employment in the police service. The High Court emphasized that HIV status alone did not make a person unfit for work and that denying employment in the police force to all people living with HIV “as one single homogenous class, irrespective of the stage of the disease,” was in violation of the equality provisions of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Citing Hoffmann v. South African Airways, the Court stressed that unfair discrimination can condemn an HIV-positive person to “economic death”. The Court further held that the petitioner’s denial of employment impaired his dignity and constituted unfair discrimination.