The Delhi High Court recently directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to ensure that leprosy patients who are residents of leprosy colonies are not evicted and that there are no encroachments on the land.

The bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad gave this direction while dealing with a plea seeking directions to declare that Leprosy affected persons who live in Leprosy colonies have right inherent in their right to life under Article 21 to occupy and own land in these colonies.

Advocate Rashmi Nandakumar appeared for the petitioner whereas ASC Anupam Srivastava appeared for GNCTD. Advocate Beenashaw N. Soni appeared for MCD.

The Court noted that material on record indicated that leprosy is a curable disease and once the person is cured of the disease, steps must be taken to ensure that the person is rehabilitated.

However, the Court held that it cannot accede to the prayer made by the Petitioner for grant of title of land occupied by the persons staying in the leprosy colonies.

“The purpose of having leprosy colonies is for the benefit of leprosy affected persons and once a person is cured of the disease, he should be in a position to leave these colonies and steps must be taken to rehabilitate them. Title of land cannot be granted to such persons to permit them to continue in these colonies generation after generation even though the future generations will not be physically affected by the disease.”, the Court observed.

The Court further added that the purpose of creating these colonies will get defeated if title of land is granted to persons who are living in these colonies and who are not affected by leprosy.

The Court agreed with the Petitioner that leprosy-affected persons are equal members of our society and discrimination against leprosy-affected persons is violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Court added that leprosy-affected persons should be considered for appointment under the persons with disability quota, and people must be made aware and sensitised to ensure that the patients affected by leprosy are not discriminated against.

Thus the Court concluded that “…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.”

Cause Title- Gore Lal Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors (Neutral Citation Number of W.P.(C)-8183/2022 : 2023/DHC/001507)

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