New Delhi: Leprosy could soon be removed as a ground for divorce from statute books.
The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 introduced in Lok Sabha on Friday seeks to amend five personal laws — the Divorce Act (for Christians), the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriage Act and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act — to strike down leprosy as a ground for seeking divorce.
According to the bill, introduced by Minister of State for Law PP Chaudhary, the provision of leprosy as a ground for divorce was part of the laws because when these acts came into being, leprosy was incurable.
“Leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from society as the leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them. However, as a result of intensive healthcare and availability of modern medicine to cure the disease, the attitude of the society towards them began to change,” states the bill.
It said old legislative provisions discriminating against the people affected by leprosy continued in various laws.
The government, the measure states, decided to omit such discriminatory provisions from the personal laws based on the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, the observations of the Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha, the recommendations of the Law Commission and the observations by the Supreme Court.
It said the proposed law would ensure elimination of discrimination against leprosy-affected persons and provide for their integration into the mainstream of the society.
In one of its recent reports, the Law Commission had also recommended repeal of laws and provisions which were discriminatory against leprosy affected people.
Besides, India is a signatory to a UN Resolution which calls for elimination of discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had also asked the Centre and the State governments to take steps for rehabilitation and integration of leprosy affected people into the mainstream, the functionary said.