Times of India
30 July 2010
By A Subramani & Pushpa Narayan
Says Drop Cases Against Those Booked For Prescribing Allopathic Drugs
In a significant ruling, the Madras high court has said registered practitioners in siddha, ayurveda, homeopathy and unani are eligible to practise surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthesiology, ENT, ophthalmology, etc.
Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, passing orders on a contempt of court petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical Graduates Association, also said that penal action against such practitioners who dabbled in allopathy should be “dropped forthwith”.
The ruling runs contrary to a recent order delivered by another judge on a petition filed by two unani practitioners who sought similar relief. In February this year, Justice KK Sasidharan had held that practitioners of Indian system of medicines should not practise allopathy, and that there was nothing wrong if police take action against those who attempt to practise allopathy without valid qualification.
While passing orders on Thursday, Justice Kalifulla took note of a June 29 circular of the government, which, citing section 17(3)B of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970, said that institutionally qualified practitioners of siddha, ayurveda, unani and homeopathy are eligible to practise the respective system with modern scientific medicine “including surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthesiology, ENT, ophthalmology, etc. based on the training and teaching.”
The government’s latest stand on the issue smacks of ambiguity while dealing with alternative systems of medicine which it seeks to promote even while claiming to check illegal practitioners. The recent crackdown had seen several traditional practioners being booked for prescribing allopathic drugs.
Taking a different view in February, the director of medical and rural health services had told the court that unani practitioners prescribing allopathic drugs would amount to illegal practice and they are liable for legal action. The syllabi of unani and MBBS were not similar and that persons who did not have a valid MBBS qualification could not be registered in the Indian Medical Council Act register, he said.
The siddha graduates’ association had filed a contempt petition against the director-general of police, stating that practitioners of the Indian medicine system were being arrested despite an April 7, 2006 order of the court restraining authorities from interfering with the practice of the members who held valid registration certificate.
When the matter was taken up earlier this week, the government furnished a copy of the June 19, 2010 circular, which admitted that the police had inspected clinics of several practitioners of siddha, ayurveda, homeopathy and unani and even arrested some of them during a drive against quacks. Making it clear that these registered practitioners were free to do surgery on the basis of their “training and teaching”, the circular said cases against doctors already arrested would be reviewed.
Recording the details, Justice Kalifulla said: “It is imperative that no proceedings can be initiated against any of those registered practitioners in siddha, ayurveda, homeopathy and unani, who are eligible to practise the respective system along with modern scientific medicine including surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics, anaesthesiology, ENT, ophthalmology, etc. If any action had been taken against such medical practitioners, it is needless to state that such action should be dropped forthwith...”
Reacting to the latest order, state health secretary VK Subburaj said they were just making use of the provisions in the Act. “But this is allowed only for those who attended colleges and underwent training for surgeries.