CENTRAL government has on February 21, 2019 notified ‘The Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019’ that amends the Divorce Act, 1869 (4 of 1869), the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 (8 of 1939), the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (43 of 1954), the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (25 of 1955) and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (78 of 1956) so as to omit the provisions contained therein which are discriminatory to the leprosy affected persons. All these personal laws which have been amended by the said Amendment Act contained leprosy as a ground for seeking divorce.
Recently, the Supreme Court has, inter alia, directed the Union Government as well as the State Governments to take necessary steps for rehabilitation and integration of the leprosy affected persons into the mainstream including the steps to repeal the provisions where leprosy has been treated as a stigmatic disability.
The National Human Rights Commission in its meeting held on January 3, 2008 had, inter alia, recommended amendments in certain personal laws and other legislations. Further, the Committee on petitions of Rajya Sabha in its 131st Report on “Petition Praying for Integration and Empowerment of Leprosy Affected Persons”, had examined various statutes and desired that the concerned ministries and state governments would urgently consider amendments to such anachronistic and discriminatory provisions in the concerned legislations. The 20th Law Commission of India in its 256th Report titled “Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy”, also recommended for removing the discriminatory provisions in various statutes against the persons affected with leprosy.
Also, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution in 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’. India has signed and ratified the said Resolution.
Read The Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019