Holding that leprosy was curable, the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre and states to do the needful to delete from statute books all laws that discriminated against people suffering from the same. “Delete from statute books all such laws…We are sure centre and states will rise to the occasion to remove the provision relating to disability. We are conscious that leprosy is absolutely curable,” a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
The court also took objection to the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) requirement that passengers that passengers travelling in its trains must carry a certificate stating that the disease is not contagious. The bench said it does not approve of this. The bench yold Advocate A D N Rao appearing for DMRC that Tuberculosis was once considered incurable and contagious but there was no such stigma associated with now. Leprosy too was curable, the bench observed.
The directions came on a PIL by NGO Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy which sought elimination of all forms of discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy. It sought repeal of at least 119 laws and rules which it said are discriminatory against those affected by leprosy. The petition pointed out that with the advancement of medical science, leprosy is no longer an incurable disease.
Continued discrimination meted out to those who had been cured of the diseased violated their fundamental rights of equality, freedom of speech and expression and life and personal liberty, it submitted.