SC issues directions to Centre, states for rehabilitation of leprosy patients

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India, File Photo

New Delhi, Sep 14 :The Supreme Court on Friday issued a slew of directions to the Centre and the States to end the stigma and discrimination of leprosy patients.

The bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has directed the States and Union Territories to frame separate rules for granting disability certificates to leprosy patients for availing reservation and various welfare benefits and undertake massive awareness programs  on the curability of leprosy.

Supreme Court today passed a number of directions with respect to what kind of care should be given to leprosy patients. SC stated that leprosy patients should get proper medical care, & rehabilitation measures.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued a slew of directions to thecentre and the states and asked them to ensure proper treatment of leprosy patients and end discrimination against them.

It directed that a “massive” awareness campaign be carried out by the government on curability of leprosy, adding that patients “should not be isolated” by the family or community as the person can “lead a normal life”.

The bench directed to “end stigma” against leprosy patients and to make sure they get adequate medical care and rehabilitation measures.

It further directed that the Centre and state governments to ensure that both private and government aided schools should not discriminate against children affected by leprosy.

The court also directed that leprosy patients should be given Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards so they can avail Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme, which provides highly subsidised food to the poorest families.

The judgement of the apex court came on a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha who had alleged that governments have failed to eliminate the disease despite medical treatment available since 1981.

He had claimed that leprosy affects over 1.25 lakh people annually in the country and had sought a direction to the governments that leprosy drugs be made available at primary health centres in the country.

He also pleaded that an appropriate scheme be formulated to bring people suffering from leprosy into the national mainstream.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the Centre to consider framing a law to repeal all laws that discriminate against those suffering from leprosy and granted six weeks to the government for taking a decision on the issue.

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