September 15, 2018

Slew Of Measures Announced By Sc To End Centuries’ Old Stigma Attached To Leprosy Patients


The Supreme Court directed the Centre to frame separate rules for issuing disability certificates to leprosy patients so that they can avail of reservation and other benefits.

Stating that societal acceptance of leprosy patients would go a long way in reducing the centuries’ old stigma attached to them, the apex court gave a slew of directions to the Centre and state governments for the launch of huge awareness programs.

Due attention must be paid to make sure that leprosy patients are issued Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards so that they can avail benefits under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and similar such schemes, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud held.

“The Union and state governments must proactively plan and formulate a comprehensive community-based rehabilitation scheme which will cater to all basic facilities and needs of leprosy-affected persons and their families. The scheme shall be aimed at eliminating the stigma that is associated with persons afflicted with leprosy,” the bench said.

“The Union Government may consider framing separate rules for assessing the disability quotient of leprosy-affected persons for the purpose of issuing disability certificates in the exercise of the power granted under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016,” it said.

The bench said that awareness campaigns needed to enlighten people that leprosy patients could lead a “normal, married life”, “have children”, “participate in social events” and “go to work or school like normal people”.

“The Union and state governments must ensure that both private and public schools do not discriminate against children hailing from leprosy-affected families. Such children should not be turned away and attempt should be made to provide them free education,” the bench said, among many other measures.

The ruling was on a PIL filed by Advocate Pankaj Sinha, claiming that the government was not doing enough to eradicate leprosy.

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