New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed the Centre file its comprehensive action plan to ensure eradication of leprosy from the country, saying the “curable” disease cannot be allowed to affect the people.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it would examine the action plan and pass judgement on the issue.
The bench, while reserving its verdict, asked the parties to file written submissions by July 9 on a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha alleging that the government was not taking adequate steps to eradicate the disease.
Earlier, the bench had asked the Centre to place on the record the ‘Draft Implementation Programme’ for eradicating leprosy from the country.
The bench was informed that Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were the leprosy-endemic states and efforts were needed to eradicate the disease from these states.
The Centre had said an online programme was being launched to detect the patients and their treatment.
The court had earlier rapped the authorities for their “apathy” towards eradicating leprosy from the country, saying despite it being “curable”, the disease still remained a stigma.
Sinha, in his plea, has alleged that leprosy affects over 1.25 lakh people annually in the country. He had also alleged that the governments have failed to eliminate the disease despite medical treatment being available since 1981.
“Despite an effective cure, namely Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) which has been available since 1981, that can completely cure 99 per cent of leprosy bacteria, due to apathy of the Government of India and the state governments, people are still suffering from the said disease, which is treated as a social stigma,” the petition said.
It sought a direction to the governments that the drugs be made available at primary health centres across the country.
It also pleaded that an appropriate scheme be formulated to bring people suffering from leprosy into the national mainstream.