Lok Sabha passes bill to remove leprosy as ground for divorce

Jan 07, 2019, 16:08 IST | PTI

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.

Lok Sabha passes bill to remove leprosy as ground for divorce
Representational image

New Delhi: A bill seeking to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday."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 while 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. 

The bill was passed by a voice vote amid din as Congress and SP members protested over Rafale and CBI issue respectively. Chaudhary said leprosy as a ground for divorce is a "discriminatory" provision. The Human Rights Commission and judgements 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. The Law Commission in its report had also recommended repeal of laws and provisions which were discriminatory against leprosy-affected people. Besides, India is a signatory to a UN Resolution which calls for the elimination of discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy. 

In 2014, the Supreme Court had also asked the Centre and the state governments to take steps for rehabilitation and integration of leprosy-affected people into the mainstream. Participating in the discussion, Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) opposed the Bill saying leprosy has not yet been eradicated from the country. "Do not interfere in Muslim Personal law," Owaisi said, adding that other Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh still allows divorce on grounds of leprosy.

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