The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce in personal laws, even though AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi objected to it, saying this was not in consonance with the Islamic law of marriage.
“Leprosy is being removed as a ground for divorce as it is now a curable disease as against the earlier notion of it being incurable,” Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary said, replying to a discussion on The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
The Bill seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce in five personal laws — Hindu Marriage Act, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, Divorce Act (for Christians), Special Marriage Act and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act.
Chaudhary said leprosy as a ground for divorce is a “discriminatory” provision. The Human Rights Commission and judgments of various courts had also underlined the need to amend the laws to remove this discrimination. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in August 2018.
Owaisi, however, said that unlike other marriage laws, Islam recognised marriage as a “contract between two people”. “Therefore as per Contract laws in India, if one party willfully hides any information, like illness such as leprosy, it is a ground for divorce,” he said.
He said that contrary to the government’s claims, leprosy has not yet been eradicated in India.
Linking it to the Triple Talaq Bill passed in the Lok Sabha recently, Owaisi said the government should not interfere with the Muslim personal laws. “Do not interfere in Muslim Personal law,” Owaisi said, adding that other Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh still allow divorce on grounds of leprosy. Trinamool Congress and BJD supported the Bill. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party members were in the Well, demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Rafale deal and protesting against the CBI probe into the illegal mining case in UP, respectively.