Supreme Court orders central govt to formulate and adopt measures to eradicate leprosy
Pankaj Sinha vs Union of India & Ors Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 767/2014, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA The petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India regarding discrimination faced by persons affected by leprosy in the areas of health, education, banking, housing etc. The PIL also challenges the fact that whilst reports of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme of the Government of India continue to report states with high levels of endemicity, the government claimed that leprosy had been eradicated from India and had merged the earlier targeted leprosy health programmes into the general health system. Despite the availability of effective cure, namely, Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) the same was not available at the PHC levels and consequently, leprosy was still prevalent due to apathy of the Government of India and the state governments. The writ also contends that nearly 2 lakh new cases of leprosy are being reported annually and these persons are not being treated and rehabilitated under any targeted programmes. The stigma faced by persons affected by leprosy continues to ostracize them and discrimination is rampant in all walks of life. The writ petition seeks for the issuance of directions for availability of the drugs at primary health centres and proper administration of the same, treatment of the pregnant women suffering from leprosy, availability of footwear, ownership of land in colonies for affected persons, provision of clean drinking water and hygienic living conditions in these colonies and making provision to eliminate discrimination against the children of leprosy affected families in education. Union of India filed an affidavit on February 2, 2017, depicting the disability proportion of patients of leprosy and initiatives taken by the central government. On February 3, 2017, the Court directed the Union of India to formulate an effective programme for the eradication of leprosy and take concrete measures, as per the data of an affidavit filed and also directed the central government to finalise a new programme within two weeks for treatment and rehabilitation of the newly identified persons affected by leprosy which ranges between 1.5 lakhs to 2 lakhs annually. The matter still continues to be heard by the Supreme Court of India.