Skip to main content
The Perception of Incurability - Leprosy, Discrimination and the Medical Truth
Boston University International Law Journal (2018)
  • Shelja Gautam
  • Khagesh Gautam
People suffering from leprosy, as well as their families, have been and continue to be subjected to highly discriminatory treatment around the world, including India. This discrimination is not restricted to social behavior, but is also practiced by the means of laws and legal institutions. These laws severely restrict the liberty of Leprosy Affected Persons (“LAPs”) in various ways. The historical justification for these laws has always been that society as a whole has to be protected from LAPs, as there is a risk of spreading the disease to otherwise healthy people. The assumption clearly is that leprosy is a communicable and an incurable disease—the perception of incurability. This Article subjects this assumption to close scrutiny. After describing the perception of incurability, the Article examines the perception from a medical and scientific standpoint and finds that the perception is not based on, or supported by, known medical facts—the refutation of the perception of incurability. Having thus refuted the perception, the Article then examines (as a case study) certain Indian Parliamentary statutes, and exposes the perception of incurability and communicability of leprosy that is the basis of these statutes.These legislations are then examined from the standpoint of constitutional protections of equality and liberty that are protected as fundamental rights by the Indian Constitution. The Article concludes by arguing that the refutation makes the constitutionality of these statutes suspect. 
  • Leprosy,
  • Discrimination,
  • Supreme Court of India,
  • Constitutin of India,
  • Hindu Marriage Act
Publication Date
Spring April 12, 2018
Citation Information
Shelja Gautam and Khagesh Gautam. "The Perception of Incurability - Leprosy, Discrimination and the Medical Truth" Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 36 Iss. 2 (2018) p. 249 - 285
Available at: