Parliament passes law removing leprosy as ground for divorce | 6 POINTS

Parliament on Wednesday (February 13) passed a Bill removing leprosy as a ground for divorce under five personal laws including the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Rajya Sabha, on the last day of the Budget session, passed the Bill without debate after consensus on the issue.

The Upper House first passed the Personal Laws Amendment Bill 2018 by voice vote.


The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce.
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 Law Commission in its report had 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 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.
The passing of Bill is encouraging since it recognises leprosy as a medical condition, as a disease which can be diagnosed, treated, and cured.


Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a mycobacterium. The disease affects especially the skin and peripheral nerves.

It is characterised by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is transmitted when someone who has the disease coughs or sneezes.

Though leprosy is curable if detected early and treated, it can cause progressive and permanent damage if left untreated, leading to disfigurement, blindness and chronic wounds.

Public stigma is among the barriers to early diagnosis, as are other “discriminatory factors” such as gender, age, race and increased vulnerability due to disability, social exclusion or even migration.