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Supreme Court Rejects PIL Seeking Ban on Adulterated Ayurvedic Medicines, Citing Legal Complexity

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Published on: December 05, 2023 at 01:20 IST

The Supreme Court has declined to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought a ban on adulterated Ayurvedic medicines. The PIL also called for action against manufacturers accused of adulterating Ayurvedic medicines with substances such as steroids, lead, and mercury.

The Bench, consisting of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, refused to consider the matter, raising the fundamental question of how the court can direct the ban of something already deemed illegal.

Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, representing the petitioner along with Advocate-on-Record Farheen Fatima, argued for the PIL, highlighting concerns about the indiscriminate use of steroids in Ayurvedic formulations.

However, the Chief Justice questioned the feasibility of granting relief in the form of a ban, stating, “But how can we grant these kinds of relief?”

The Chief Justice pointed out the redundancy of issuing a writ to ban adulterated medicines that are already impermissible. He emphasized that such matters fall within the jurisdiction of state governments, which can take action according to existing laws.

The Chief Justice further advised the petitioner to pursue alternative remedies, stating, “You can pursue your claim; if you have a particular grievance against any manufacturer, you have your remedies. If you feel something has to be done, then move the government.” Consequently, Senior Advocate Khurshid sought the court’s permission to approach the appropriate authority.

The bench dismissed the petition, asserting that the petitioner can seek remedies before the competent regulatory authority.

The petitioner, Vishnu Kumar, had conducted tests on Ayurvedic medicines in a government lab, revealing the presence of steroids and harmful chemicals. Despite efforts to bring this to the authorities’ attention, the petitioner claimed that these adulterated medicines continue to be sold across the country.

The PIL emphasized the health risks posed by such medicines and highlighted the global impact, attributing 1.5% of annual global deaths to adulterated Ayurvedic medicines.

The petitioner cited the broader scope of the right to life, linking it with the right to health, livelihood, and a better standard of life. The PIL referred to legal precedents, including the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. the Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi, to emphasize the inherent and inescapable nature of the right to health in a dignified life.