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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Govt all set to scrap laws discriminating against leprosy patients

In India, there are 119 laws which have discriminatory sections against leprosy patients and five of them are still in-force in the state. Madhya Pradesh government is all set to scrap objectionable sections from five separate acts which discriminate against leprosy patients.

bhopal Updated: Apr 12, 2018 18:49 IST
Shruti Tomar
Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
The decision follows a PIL filed in the Supreme Court in December which pointed out the existence of the discriminatory provision and the SC asked the governments to repeal these laws.
The decision follows a PIL filed in the Supreme Court in December which pointed out the existence of the discriminatory provision and the SC asked the governments to repeal these laws.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

Madhya Pradesh government is all set to scrap objectionable sections from five separate acts which discriminate against leprosy patients. Some of these acts are over five decades old and were framed at a time when stigma against leprosy patients was high and does not allow them to live a life of dignity.

“The decision follows a PIL filed in the Supreme Court in December which pointed out the existence of the discriminatory provision and the SC asked the governments to change these laws,” said Arun Garg, standing counsel for Madhya Pradesh in the SC.

In India, there are 119 laws which have discriminatory sections against leprosy patients and five of them are still in-force in the state.

“The discriminations included detention, arrest without warrant, disqualified from holding office in panchayats and civic bodies, stopping them from attending schools and libraries and stopping them from working as teacher, doctors, midwives etc,” said Garg.

For example Section 26 of the Madhya Pradesh Bhikshavritti Nivaran Adhiniyam, 1973, allows the detention of a beggar suffering from leprosy and discharging him only if he is allowed by the medical officer.

Social Justice department principal secretary Ashok Shah said, “The act was clearly discriminating against lepers. When the act was formed, leprosy was an incurable disease but now it curable so changes are must. We have changed the laws and sent it to the law department for their vetting.”

Four other departments have also initiated the process amended the acts included Madhya Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1961’s section 35, Madhya Pradesh Panchayat Raj Avam Gram Swaraj, Adhiniyam, 1993 section 36, MP Public Health Act 1949 section 81 and 82 and Inland Steam vessels MP rules 1962.

The doctors also feel that with the medical advancement the acts needs to be changed.

Joint director health (Leprosy), BN Chauhan said, “With World Health Organisation’s multidrug therapy (MDT), leprosy is a curable disease but people still ignorant and believe leprosy is incurable and discriminate against the patients. The change in law will give a new lease of life to the patients and return their fundamental rights.”

First Published: Apr 11, 2018 18:54 IST

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