National

Lok Sabha passes Bill to remove leprosy as ground for divorce

P.P. Chaudhary. File

P.P. Chaudhary. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill seeking to remove leprosy as ground for divorce stating that this was a “discriminatory” provision for a disease that is now curable.

“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,” said Minister of State for Law P. P. Chaudhary moving the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha.

The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has sought to amend five Acts — the Divorce Act, 1869, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 — on provisions related marriage, divorce, and separation of Hindu and Muslim couples.

Each of these Acts prescribe leprosy as a ground for seeking divorce or separation from the spouse. The Bill cleared on Monday removes this as a ground for divorce or separation.

The Bill was passed by a voice vote amid din as Congress and Samajwadi Party protested over the Rafale fighter jet deal and the CBI raids issue respectively.

Previously the Human Rights Commission and judgements of various courts had also underlined the need to amend the laws to remove this discrimination.

Badaruddoza Khan (CPI-M) welcomed the Bill and said that the government has to work on eradicating the mindset of people regarding leprosy. He also accused the government of damaging rational thought and scientific temper in the country referring to the Sabarimala protests. Kalyan Banerjee, member of the All India Trinamool Congress supported the Bill and wanted to know the steps taken by the government on rehabilitation of people living with leprosy.

Asaduddin Owaisi, president, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen opposed the Bill saying: “You are taking away the right of a woman to divorce a man who has concealed an ailment. In Islam, marriage is a contract. If a party is concealing a disease, this itself is a ground for divorce.”

He requested the government not to interfere in Muslim Personal laws stating that other Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh still allows divorce on grounds of leprosy.

The House also gave its nod to amendments passed by the Rajya Sabha on ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018’, and ‘National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018’.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:36:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lok-sabha-passes-bill-to-remove-leprosy-as-ground-for-divorce/article25931933.ece

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