Leprosy is curable, Supreme Court passes slew of directions for benefit of patients


Dr KK Aggarwal    05 July 2018

With the object of ending discrimination against Leprosy patients, the Supreme Court passed a slew of directions aimed at their rehabilitation and integration into society. The directions came to be passed by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud in a petition filed by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Pankaj Sinha.

Vidhi had, among other things, prayed for striking down statutes that allegedly discriminate against patients suffering from the disease. Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Vidhi, had earlier submitted that at least one hundred and nineteen statutes (both Central and State) discriminate against leprosy patients and that the same violate of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The Court had issued notice in the matter in December last year.

“There has to be social awareness to the factum that with the advancement of science in the past forty years, the disease is curable.”

The Bench then passed the following directions:

  1. Union of India shall carry out awareness campaigns at various levels so that people come to know that Leprosy is curable.
  2. There should be specific programmes telecast on All India Radio and Doordarshan on National and regional channels for educating people about the fact that Leprosy is not a communicable disease. The programme should be telecast during primetime.
  3. Hospitals should not decline to treat persons suffering from Leprosy.
  4. Union of India and States shall take steps to rehabilitate Leprosy patients and to bring them to the mainstream.
  5. It is the duty of the Centre and States to ensure that Leprosy patients do not suffer from any stigma.

The Court also directed the Centre and the States to apprise it of the steps taken by filing compliance reports. The matter will now be heard on August 8.

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