New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that homeopathy medical practitioners can prescribe medicines for prophylaxis, amelioration and mitigation of COVID-19 patients and the prescription has to be given only by institutionally qualified practitioners.
The top court said that when statutory regulations itself prohibit advertisement, there is no occasion for Homeopathic medical practitioners to advertise that they are competent to cure COVID-19 disease.
It said that Homeopathy is contemplated to be used in preventing and mitigating COVID-19, as is reflected by the advisory and guidelines issued by the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy).
The top court said that Homeopathic medical practitioners have to follow the advisory dated March 6, issued by AYUSH Ministry as well as guidelines for Homeopathic medical practitioners for COVID-19 issued by Ministry of AYUSH.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and M R Shah said, When the Scientists of the entire world are engaged in research to find out proper medicine/ vaccine for COVID-19, there is no occasion for making any observation as contained in with regard to Homeopathic medical practitioners. The homeopathy does not cure the disease, but it cures the patients .
It said that the Ministry of AYUSH guidelines specifically permits use of Homeopathy for following three ways–Preventive and prophylactic; Symptom management of COVID-19 like illness and add-on interventions to conventional care.
It said that the guidelines make it clear that Homeopathy has been envisaged by the Ministry as the therapeutic aid.
The bench in its verdict said that the guidelines refer to Homeopathy medicines as medicines for prophylaxis, amelioration and mitigation.
The guidelines, however, specifically provide that the prescription has to be given only by institutionally qualified practitioners.
The top court said that it is clear from the advisory dated March 6, 2020 and the specific stand taken by the Ministry of AYUSH that Homeopathic medical practitioners are not only confined to prescribe Homeopathic medicines only as immunity booster.
It said, We, however, make it clear that what is permissible for Homeopathic medical practitioners in reference to COVID-19 symptomatic and asymptomatic patients is already regulated by the said advisory and guidelines.
The bench said that the Kerala High Court in its August 21, verdict has not fully comprehended the guidelines dated March 6 and taking a restricted view of the guidelines and have made observations for taking appropriate actions against the Homeopathic medical practitioners, which cannot be approved.
The top court said that there was no occasion for the High Court to make observations that if any qualified AYUSH doctor, makes any advertisement or prescribes any drugs or medicines, as a cure for COVID-19 disease, except as prescribed in letter dated March 6, it is open to the authorities to take appropriate action under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
It said that the High Court, however, is right in its observation that no medical practitioner can claim that it can cure COVID-19 and there is no such claim in other therapy including Allopathy.
The High Court is right in observing that no claim for cure can be made in Homeopathy. The Homeopathy is contemplated to be used in preventing and mitigating COVID-19 as is reflected by the advisory and guidelines issued by the Ministry of AYUSH as noticed above, the bench said.
The top court had reserved its verdict on December 1 on a plea filed by Dr. AKB Sadbhavana Mission School of Homeo Pharmacy challenged the High Court order which had said that AYUSH medical practitioners can prescribe government-approved mixtures and tablets only as immunity booster for COVID-19.
The Centre had told the top court that prescription of add-on medicines as permitted by the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) to COVID positive patients was allowed.