• India is home to largest number of leprosy patients
  • India accounts for 60% of new cases of leprosy worldwide.
  • Leprosy patients cannot run for elections
  • Leprosy patients cannot obtain driving license
  • According to National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), a centrally-sponsored scheme, India achieved the goal of elimination of leprosy as a public health problem, defined as less than 1 case per 10,000 population till December, 2005
  • Mahatma Gandhi did lot of work for upliftment of people effected with leprosy.


ias4sure.com - Leprosy


Basics about Leprosy:
  • Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and it usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves. The mode of transmission of leprosy is still not known.
  • While recognised as a disability under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995, and being completely curable, persons affected by leprosy continue to face discrimination not only from the larger society but also the disability sector itself.
Leprosy Case Detection Campaign 
  • Launched to eradicate leprosy
  • Teams will undertake door-to-door visits to detect leprosy cases
Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign
  • The thrust of SLAC campaign is to promote community participation in diagnosis and treatment of leprosy in its early stages and to spread awareness about the disease to help in early diagnosis and treatment.
  • It seeks to promote decentralised community-based demand-driven approach from present centralised top-down delivery-driven approach to fight the disease.
  • It also seeks to empower local communities to take over the responsibility of sensitising people to not stigmatise and discriminate against those affected.

Supreme Court order:

  • Twenty-first century society cannot justify shunning persons affected by leprosy or keeping them hidden in homes and away from the mainstream.
  • The court has asked the Centre to respond in eight weeks to a call to repeal 119 Central and State laws in practice since the 1950s that discriminate against leprosy patients, stigmatise and isolate them despite the fact that modern medicine completely cures the disease.
  • The court has asked the government to explain the continued existence of these laws, which, in a way, deny the truth that modern medicine cures leprosy.



  • There are 119 laws that discriminate against persons affected by leprosy in broadly the following five ways:
    • cause stigmatisation and indignity to persons affected by leprosy
    • isolate/segregate persons affected by leprosy
    • deny them access to public services
    • impose disqualifications on them under personal laws, or
    • bar them from occupying or standing for public posts or office.
  • These laws rob persons affected by leprosy by denying them equal treatment under personal laws, in matters of employment and appointment or election to public office, as well as access to and free movement in public place.


It is alleged that, India, which is home to largest number of leprosy patients in the world has discriminatory policies against these patients. Critically examine. (200 Words)
  • Although the incidents of leprosy in India have been reducing continuously, the country was still seen to have largest number of leprosy patients in 2014.
  • Various hospitals and schemes have been launched to further slowdown the spread and eventually completely eradicate the disease from the country; still there is no environment of sympathy for these patients in the country, both in society and in the administrative structure.
  • There are several laws containing discriminatory policies against leprosy victims, like, prohibition of leprosy patients from standing in elections. Such laws have been supported by the central govt. and ratified in several judgements of SC.
  • Other laws include the Motor Vehicle Act of 1939 which restricts leprosy patients from obtaining a driving license and the Indian Rail Act of 1990 which prohibits leprosy patients from traveling by train.
  • Many of such laws have been formulated before the Multi Drug Therapy came into being, and they have not been updated since. For example, leprosy is still considered as a legitimate ground for divorce, according to some of the marriage acts, which declares leprosy incurable. Such laws do not reflect the current status of medical science against leprosy.
  • The need of the hour is to update such old acts, according to the present scenario. Also, there is a need to make people aware of the facts of leprosy and the treatment available for it.
  • National Leprosy Education Programme of 1985, should be given more funds, so as to diversify its activities and cure more people, and help in making India a leprosy free country.
“It is hoped that the Law Commission of India’s 256th Report, ‘Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy’, will initiate a new chapter in India’s fight against leprosy.” Examine. (200 Words)

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind. Despite the advancements made by science and technology, this curable disease remains misunderstood and dreaded. India is home to the largest number of new leprosy cases globally. The stigma attached with it, causes the victims to suffer discrimination and ignominy. Such discrimination is perpetuated not just by the society but also by several Indian laws. It is against this background that the Law Commission Report makes several recommendations to fight the social stigma associated with leprosy. These include:
  1. The need to repeal provisions of laws including personal laws which discriminate on grounds of leprosy.
  2. Stop the official use of the word leper.
  3. Amendment of the Persons with Disabilities Act to broaden the definition of ‘disability’ to include all categories of person affected by leprosy.
  4. There is a commendable change in treatment opportunities after the advent of multi drug therapy. The archaic laws should be readjusted to meet the new environment.
  5. Enactment of a legislation that promotes the inclusion of persons affected by leprosy and their family members through affirmative action. Such legislation should provide for measures against discrimination, land rights over leprosy colonies, right to employment and educational opportunities.

Broadly, these recommendations, which are based on constitutional values of equality and dignity, are a step in the right direction. But some may be controversial. For e.g., the suggestion that persons living in leprosy colonies need to be granted title of the property in their possession. But this will only perpetuate isolation as these colonies are the sites of discrimination and leave its residents segregated from the rest of the society. If such concerns are adequately addressed, then the report is forward looking and progressive.

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