Court: what has been done to register unqualified medical practitioners?


J. Venkatesan in THE HINDU

The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response on the steps it has taken for registration of unqualified medical practitioners pursuant to its letter sent to all States in May 1996.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and H.L. Dattu recently issued notice to the Union Health Ministry, during the hearing of a special leave petition filed by the Private Medical Practitioners Association of India (PMPAI) against two orders of the Madras High Court asking the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to take action against those doctors who were practising without licence.

In its petition, the IMA sought a direction to authorities to consider the representations sent last year and initiate criminal prosecution against paramedical technicians, paramedical practitioners and physiotherapists prescribing allopathic medicines and administering allopathic treatment, and using ‘Dr.’ before their names in prescriptions and advertisements. The High court passed its orders on January 5 and February 23.

No specific complaint

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the PMPAI said the association comprised practitioners who had 10-40 years of experience in various forms of medicine. The members were rendering medical service to the people living in remote villages at affordable cost. So far there had been no specific complaint or allegation against the members.

However, the IMA was making attempts to eradicate the medical practitioners other than its members on the ground that the PMPAI members could not practise as they did not possess a valid licence. About 200 medical practitioners were arrested on the basis of the orders obtained from the High court.

Counsel for the petitioner association P. Somasundaram said that as early as in 1996 the Union Health Ministry addressed a letter to all States on the need for registration of unqualified medical practitioners, stating it would be desirable to enlist the existing unqualified medical practitioners on specified conditions and then adopt a strict attitude towards those who were carrying on practice in modern medicine without getting either registration or enlistment.

SLP can’t be withdrawn

Counsel said though the association was prepared to withdraw the SLP, it wanted to know what action had been taken pursuant to the letter sent to the States. It was at this juncture the Bench said it would not allow the SLP to be withdrawn and issued notice to the Health Ministry, asking it to file an affidavit in eight weeks on the steps taken pursuant to the 1996 letter.

The court asked Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam to render assistance in this case.


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