Hindus in India could seek divorce if partner had leprosy— not anymore

  • The Indian Parliament on Wednesday passed a Bill that removed leprosy as a ground for divorce in five personal laws.
  • Hindus in India can no longer seek divorce if partner has leprosy.
  • Leprosy patients were not considered a part of the society as the disease was not curable.
The Indian Parliament just removed an archaic law that allowed Hindus in the country to divorce their partners if they had leprosy.

On Wednesday, the upper house passed a bill that will remove the disease -- now declared curable -- as a legitimate ground for divorce, according to the five personal laws under the Hindu Marriage Act. The bill was passed on the last day of the Budget session without instigating any debate following general agreement on the issue.

The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill seeking removal of leprosy as a ground for divorce was introduced in 2018 in the lower house of Parliament. But the first push to remove this outdated provision was mooted over a decade ago. Earlier, Leprosy patients were not considered a part of the society as the disease was not curable. Leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from society as the leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them

The suggestion of excluding leprosy as a ground for divorces in India was first put forward by The National Human Rights Commission in 2008. The Commission said that it is a curable disease now and it is not viable to have the diseases as a basis for divorce.

Following this, India signed a United Nation General Assembly’s Resolution in 2010 to eliminate any discrimination against people affected by leprosy. In 2014, the Supreme Court also instructed the centre and state governments to rehabilitate those affected by leprosy.

While the World Health Organisation declared successful eradication of leprosy worldwide, India is still witnessing high incidences of the diseases. As of 2017, India had nearly 57% of the world’s leprosy patient.

See also:
India’s Citizenship Bill is faced with growing protests
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