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Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  3. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of the Bill, what is leprosy?
  • For Mains: Need for a legislation in this regard, significance of the Bill, need for awareness.


Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018, which seeks to remove leprosy as a ground for divorce. Leprosy is being removed as a ground for divorce as it is now a curable disease as against the earlier notion of it being incurable.


Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018:

Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeks to end the discrimination against leprosy persons in various central laws: the Divorce Act, 1869; the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939; the Special Marriage Act, 1954 etc.

The Bill eliminates leprosy as a ground for dissolution of marriage or divorce.

The condition under Section 18 (2) (c) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, that a Hindu wife is entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance if the latter is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy has been omitted.

The amendments introduced in the Bill omit the provisions which stigmatise and discriminate against leprosy-affected persons.


Significance of the Bill:

The Bill is meant to provide for the integration of leprosy patients into the mainstream. It is in keeping with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’ .

The proposed law follows a National Human Rights Commission recommendation a decade ago to introduce amendments in personal laws and other statutes.



Leprosy is one of the world’s oldest diseases with India accounting for over 60% of the annual new cases of leprosy.

Official data says that the number of new Leprosy cases detected during 2016-17 is around 140000 and the prevalence Rate per 10000 population as on March 2017 for India is 0.66, it is established that the number underestimates the real Leprosy burden. In 2017, India along with Brazil and Indonesia are the only countries where more than 10000 new cases are reported per year.


What necessitated this?

Over 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients. These laws stigmatise and isolate leprosy patients and, coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy, cause the patients untold suffering. So there is a need for a separate bill.


Government Initiatives in Recently:

The Government has announced the three-pronged strategy for early detection of leprosy cases in the community. It was introduced in 2016 under the National Health Mission, especially in the hard-to-reach areas.

A special Leprosy Case Detection Campaign was carried out in 2016. As a result, more than 32000 cases were confirmed and were put on treatment.


Supreme Court Ruling:

  • The Supreme Court has asked the Centre, states and Union Territories to undertake a campaign to spread awareness about the curability of leprosy so that those suffering from it are not discriminated.
  • It recommended for repealing archaic provisions from 119 statutes that stigmatise leprosy patients.
  • No government hospital shall decline treatment to leprosy patients. People suffering from leprosy also have the right to live with human dignity.


What is leprosy?

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history. Also, known as Hansen’s disease (HD), it is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.

It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the skin, the lining of the nose, the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. The disease produces skin ulcers, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. If it isn’t treated, it can cause severe disfigurement and significant disability.

It is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. It is common in many countries, especially those with a tropical or subtropical climate.


Sources: the hindu.


Mains Question: Discuss how The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeks to end the discrimination against leprosy patients.