Leprosy remains a stigma because of apathy shown by authorities: Supreme Court

Leprosy remains a stigma because of apathy shown by authorities: Supreme Court

A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice U.U. Lalit urged the States to take the issue of leprosy on a priority basis, as it is curable now. It observed, “Yet, because of apathy shown by the concerned authorities, it still remains a stigmatic disease in the society. It is inconceivable as it affects the human dignity and the basic concept of humanness.”

The Additional Solicitor General of India, Mr. Maninder Singh asked for a period of four weeks to file the requisite data as directed by the Court. All States were asked to collect all data.

The petitioner had earlier contended before the Court that “despite the human civilization has advanced in advancement made in the field of medicine and in spite of civilization having reached the pinnacle of scientific research, an effective cure, namely, Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) which has been available since 1981 that can completely cure 99% of leprosy bacteria, due to apathy of the Government of India and the State Governments, people are still suffering from the said disease, which is treated as a social stigma." Read the earlier order here.

It was urged by him, had people been made aware by the competent authorities of the Central Government and the State Governments, millions of people who are suffering from leprosy would have been cured and come to the mainstream of life and would not have been ostracized from the society.   Learned senior counsel would contend that because of non-concern, the leprosy affects more than one lakhs twenty five thousand persons yearly throughout the country, which is completely avoidable.

The petition had averred that patients of leprosy are not allowed to have education, sanitary benefits, community based rehabilitation as a result of which they are driven to streets and eventually turn to begging or compelled to live in so-called leprosy homes where they are treated as unpersons or aliens.

The petitioner had prayed for issuance of directions for availability of the drugs at primary health centres and proper administration of the same for treatment of the pregnant women suffering from leprosy in an apposite manner with dignity, and making provision in educational institutions whether government or private, so that discrimination against the children of the leprosy affected families due to some kind of inhibition which has no constitutional sanction, is stopped and for providing banking facilities and establishment of such colonies where they can live for temporary period till they are cured and come to the society, etc.

Read the order here.