Medicine & Doctors · Public health

Delhi HC judgement banning Ayurvedic etc doctors from practising ‘modern medicine’

The landmark Delhi High Court judgement of 8th April 2016, which bans Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani doctors from practising modern ‘allopathic’ medicine:

The main contentions of the Indian Systems of Medicine (ISoM) advocates were:

1. ISoM practitioners are allowed through Delhi Bharatiya Chikitsa Parishad Act 1998 (DBCP Act) to practice modern scientific system of medicine in as much as they are taught and trained in ‘integrated course’ of medicine

2. The Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970 (it’s an Act governing the ISoM) empowers the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) to supplement ISoM with ‘modern advances by notifications from time to time’.

3. Rule 2(ee) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (Drugs Rules) allows ISoM practitioners to prescribe allopathic drugs.

This is how the High Court responded to these contentions.

Contention 1: ISoM practitioners are allowed thru DBCP Act to practice modern scientific system of medicine in as much as they are taught and trained in ‘integrated course’ of medicine.

HC Response:

– The definition of ‘Indian Medicine’ in the Indian Medicine Act 1970 or of ‘integrated medicine’ in DBCP Act cannot be read as entitling those registered in the ‘State register of Indian Medicine’ to practise modern scientific system of medicine in any form, regulated by the Indian Medical Council Act (MCI Act) and the DMC Act.

– The definition of ‘Indian Medicine’ in the Indian Medicine Act and the imparting of theoretical knowledge of modern scientific medicine through ‘integrated medicine’ are (in fact) to enable ISoM practitioners to make use of modern advances such as Radiology Report, X-Ray, Complete Blood Picture Report, Lipids report, E.C.G.,etc. for purposes of practicing in their own system

– However if any State Act (within the meaning of MCI Act) recognizes the qualification of integrated course as sufficient qualification for registration in the ‘State Medical Register’ of that State, the prohibition of Section 15(2)(b) will not be attracted. [Section 15(2)(b) prohibits all persons from practicing modern scientific medicine in any State except a medical practitioner enrolled on the “State Medical Register”]

Contention 2: The Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970 empowers the CCIM to supplement Indian System of Medicine with ‘modern advances by notifications from time to time’.

HC response:

– We are of opinion that the words ‘modern advances as the CCIM may declare by notification from time to time’ ARE NOT CAPABLE OF TAKING INDIAN (SYSTEMS OF) MEDICINE TO BOUNDRIES BEYOND the essentials of ISoM as otherwise defined as Ashtang, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani etc; or of converting ISoM to modern scientific system of medicine or Allopathic system of medicine as defined in the MCI Act and the Indian Medical Degrees Act. To hold otherwise would blur the well defined boundaries between the two systems of medicine.

– Those who argue that the words “modern advances” in the definition of Indian Medicine can only mean Allopathic medicine are under erroneous belief that Indian system of Medicine is static or incapable of any modern advances. Undoubtedly ISoM is of much ancient vintage than the Allopathic system of medicine, but the same has been evolving over the ages and there is nothing to suggest that the same is incapable of any ‘modern advances’.

– We may highlight that even under the Indian Medicine Act, the right to amend the Schedules listing the recognised medical qualifications in Indian Medicine is only of the Central Government and not of CCIM or for that matter of the State Government.

– We remind CCIM that it being a creature of the Indian Medicine Act, does not enjoy any legislative or quasi legislative powers and has to confine itself to the field of Indian System of Medicine only and perform duties and functions as prescribed in the said Act and cannot transgress into the field/territory occupied by the MCI Act.

– A harmonious reading of Section 15 of MCI Act and Section 17 of the Indian Medicine Act leads to the conclusion that there is no scope for a person enrolled on the ‘State Register of Indian Medicine’ or ‘Central Register of Indian Medicine’ to practice modern scientific medicine in any of its branches unless that person is also enrolled on a ‘State Medical Register’ within the meaning of the MCI Act.

– However if any State Act (within the meaning of MCI Act) recognizes the qualification of ‘integrated course’ as sufficient qualification for registration in the State Medical Register of that State, the prohibition of Section 15(2)(b) of MCI Act will not be attracted.

Contention 3: Rule 2(ee) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (Drugs Rules) allows ISoM practitioners to prescribe allopathic drugs.

HC response:

– The right to practice modern scientific medicine or Indian system of medicine cannot be based on the provisions of the Drugs Rules and declaration made thereunder by State Governments

– In a broader sense, the right to prescribe drugs of a system of medicine would be synonymous with the right to practice that system of medicine; in that sense, the right to prescribe an allopathic drug cannot be wholly divorced from the claim to practice allopathic medicine

– Section 15(2) of the MCI Act providing that no person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a “State Medical Register” shall practice modern scientific medicine obliterates the right of non allopathic doctors to prescribe drugs by virtue of the declaration issued under the Drugs Rules; however, this does not debar them from prescribing or administering allopathic drugs sold across the counter for common ailments.

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