India should repeal laws that discriminate against leprosy patients, says supreme court
India should work to repeal harsh Raj-era laws that outcast leprosy patients and bar them from normal society, the country's supreme court has said.
Campaigners say the laws dating back sometimes more than a century reinforce ancient prejudices against a disease which has been curable for decades.
Judges last week also called for a nationwide public education campaign to allow sufferers to live with dignity in a country where there are still more than 100,000 new cases each year.
The supreme court comments mark the latest step in a long-running campaign to repeal a tangle of at least 119 archaic central and state laws discriminating against those with the disease.
Under the laws, sufferers can be segregated and barred from work, travel or education, while the disease is also judged as valid grounds for divorce.
The court led by C hief Justice Dipak Misra called for states and central government to draw up action plans for the repeal of the laws and a public information campaign to dispel prejudice.
âThere can be no doubt that a person suffering from leprosy, or one who has been cured of the disease, has a right to live with dignity and society cannot be bereft of humanness towards such patients,â the bench said.Source: Google News India | Netizen 24 India