Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and State Governments to appraise it of steps taken to eradicate and curb leprosy, saying it was their responsibility to curb the spread of the disease which is curable.
A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant sought responses from the Union Health Ministry and state administrations within four weeks.
The bench then fixed March 16 for hearing the PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha in his personal capacity.
The court had earlier rapped the authorities for their “apathy” in eradicating leprosy from the country, saying despite it being “curable”, the disease still remains a stigma.
Earlier too, the bench had granted time for filing of replies by the Centre and others and had said, “This is a case which should have been taken on priority basis. Leprosy, as on today, is curable and yet because of apathy shown by the authorities concerned, it still remains a stigma.”
Sinha, in his plea, has alleged that leprosy affects over 1.25 lakh people annually in the country.
He also alleged that governments have failed to eliminate the disease despite medical treatment 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 also pleaded that an appropriate scheme be formulated to bring people suffering from leprosy into the national mainstream.