The Karnataka High Court on Thursday (September 10, 2020) asked the petitioners in the plea as to why they were claiming that Ayurveda treatment was better than allopathy treatment for curing the COVID-19 virus. A Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi orally observed, "How can you say that one type of treatment is better than the other?"
The Bench posed this question while dealing with a plea seeking freedom to COVID-19 patients to choose their preferred mode of treatment. The petitioner clarified that the patient must be given the choice to undergo the treatment of his or her preference. The plea moved by Ayurveda doctors states that the Revised Standard Operating Procedure for CCC issued by the state government on July 20 mandated that every COVID-19 positive person would be admitted to a COVID Care Centre and would be compulsorily administered allopathic medicines exclusively. Further, the Guidelines on Clinical Management of COVID-19 issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on March 17 acknowledges that there is no known allopathic treatment for COVID-19, the plea states. However, the State's guidelines recommended only allopathic medicines for the management of the infection, thereby not allowing patients or health practitioners to use alternative systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, the petitioners state. This apart, the plea avers that the Guidelines for Ayurveda Practitioners for COVID-19 issued by the Ministry of AYUSH limits the use of Ayurvedic treatment as only an “add-on” for treatment of COVID-19.
Making their stance clear, the petitioners state, "Petitioners state at the outset that they are not saying that Ayurveda is a cure for Covid-19. Nor do they propagate such a belief. What they are saying is that many of the symptoms of Covid-19 can be treated with positive results by relying upon the age-old and well-tested systems of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic drugs can generally boost the immune systems and may possibly reduce the severity of the ultimate illness." The plea also raises concern over the use of substances such as hydroxychloroquine in allopathy, which is known to have serious side effects.
The petition stresses the fundamental right to life and right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution which includes the right to choose any form of treatment and the right to reject any form of treatment. In an attempt to further buttress its argument, the plea also refers to the Supreme Court judgment Common Cause v. Union of India, which upheld the right of persons to choose the treatment that they desire and that the right to refuse or reject any form of treatment, which is integral to the “right of self-determination and individual autonomy”. Thus, the plea prays to ensure that all COVID-19 patients as well as other patients are allowed to exercise their right to choose or refuse any form of treatment of their choice.
This apart, the plea seeks to quash and set aside the following:
1) The ‘Revised Standard Operating Procedure for CCC’
2) “Guidelines for Ayurveda Practitioners for Covid-19” issued by the Ministry of AYUSH
3) RTI response dated 7.5.2020 of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
4) ‘Guidelines on Clinical Management of Covid-19’ dated 17.3.2020 issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (EMR Division)