The Lok Sabha yesterday cleared the bill to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce as it is now a curable disease. Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary while replying to the discussion on The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 said that leprosy as a ground for divorce is a discriminatory provision. He added that the Human Rights Commission and judgements of various courts had also underlined the need to amend the laws to remove this discrimination.
The Bill, which was passed amid protests by Congress and Samajwadi Party over Rafale, faced opposition from AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi. Owaisi asked the government to not ‘interfere in Muslim Personal Law’. He added that leprosy is not totally eradicated and other Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh still allow leprosy as a valid ground for divorce.
Owaisi said that unlike other marriage laws, Islam recognises marriage as a contract between two people and as per contract laws in India, if any party wilfully hides any information, like a disease such as leprosy, it becomes a valid ground for divorce. He further linked it to the Triple Talaq Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha recently and asked the government to ‘not interfere’ in Muslim Personal Laws.
As per World Health Organisation (WHO), leprosy is a chronic infectious disease which affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is curable and early treatment can avert most disabilities.