Ensure That Patients Are Not Evicted From Leprosy Colonies: Delhi HC To MCD

Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has ordered the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to ensure that patients in leprosy colonies are not evicted and that there are no encroachments on the land.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing a petition filed by a leprosy patient, Gore Lal Singh, who lives in a leprosy colony, Gandhi Kusht Ashram in Tahirpur. He was later cured of the disease.

The bench stated that leprosy patients should be considered for appointments under the persons with disabilities quota, and that individuals should be made aware and sensitised to ensure that leprosy patients are not discriminated against.

The petition asked for a declaration that people with leprosy are equal members of society and that discriminating against them is blatantly against Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

“This Court is in agreement with the Petitioner that leprosy affected persons are equal members of our society and discrimination against leprosy affected persons is clear violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. An attempt, therefore, must be made to ensure that these persons are brought back to the mainstream. Granting them title deeds in these colonies is not the solution,” the court stated.

Additionally, it was demanded that Article 21 be interpreted to grant leper colony residents the right to occupy and own land there.

Observing that leprosy is a curable condition and that procedures must be made to guarantee that the person is rehabilitated once cured, the court denied the petitioner’s request for title to land held by people living in leprosy colonies.

The bench ruled that having leprosy colonies serves the interests of those who are stricken by the disease, and that a person should be able to leave the colonies once they have been cured. It also stated that steps needed to be taken to help the people recover.

It further said that if title to land is provided to residents of leprosy colonies who are not afflicted by the disease, the entire purpose of establishing them will be thwarted.

The bench continued that those who reside in leprosy colonies must be encouraged to leave, lead regular lives, and integrate into society.

“In view of the above, this Court is not in a position to accede to the prayer of grant of title of land which is being occupied by persons living in the leprosy colonies, i.e., Leprosy Complex Tahirpur. However, the MCD is directed to ensure that the leprosy patients who are residents of these colonies are not evicted and that there are no encroachments on the land,” the order stated.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte