The Lok Sabha passed the Personal law Amendment Bill 2018 which removes Leprosy as a ground for Divorce. The advancement in the medical field has thereby made leprosy curable. The Statement of objects and reasons of the bill stated that the leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from the society as leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them. However, with the technological advancements and the outcomes of the intensive healthcare facilities to cure the disease, the attitude of the society towards them began to change. The discriminatory provision contained in various statutes against the person affected with leprosy was made prior when adequate medical facilities were not available to cure such disease but with the medical advancement has rendered leprosy a curable disease. Presently leprosy is completely curable disease and can be treated with multidrug therapy. However the old legislative provision discriminating person affected by leprosy continued by various laws. The National Human Rights Commission on 3rd January 2008 had recommended amendments in certain personal laws and other legislations. In addition, the Committee on Petitions of Rajya Sabha in its 131st Report on “Petition Praying for Integration and Empowerment of Leprosy affected person” had examined various statutes and desired that the concerned ministers and state government would urgently considered amendments to such discriminatory provision in the concerned legislations and statutes. The 20th Law Commission of India in its 256 Report had recommended for removing the discriminatory provision in various statutes against the person affected with leprosy. The Supreme Court of India has also directed the Union government and state government to take necessary steps for rehabilitation and integration of the leprosy affected person into the mainstream including steps to repeal the provision of leprosy which has been treated as a stigmatic disability. Having regard to the recommendations, directions and observations of National Human Rights Commission, Rajya Sabha and Supreme Court of India, the government has decided to omit such discriminatory provision from the Personal Laws.
Therefore the Personal Law Amendment Bill 2018 seeks to amend and omit the provision contained in these statues that discriminates the leprosy affected person:
- Divorce Act, 1869
- The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956