Discriminatory disease: A leprosy patient cannot contest a civic poll or hold the post of a councillor or chairperson of a municipality, the Supreme Court ruled on September 19. This comes in the wake of patient Dhirendra Pandua challenging his disqualification from the post of councillor and chairperson in Balasore municipality. After winning the elections held on September 19, 2003, he was elected as chairperson on September 30, 2003. The verdict upheld the decisions of the election tribunal-cum-district judge, Balasore, and the Orissa High Court that upheld the provisions of the Orissa Municipal Act, 1950, disqualifying a leprosy patient from holding such posts.
The apex court noted that neither were the decisions discriminatory nor did they violate the right to equality guaranteed in the Constitution, keeping in mind the danger of the disease being transmitted to other people. The court, however, stated that keeping in view the current research on leprosy, the legislature may seriously consider whether it is still necessary to retain such provisions in the statutes.
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