The Supreme Court said that it cannot direct for use of traditional knowledge or home remedies as a cure of COVID-19 for the whole of the country and dismissed a plea seeking direction for use of ‘Red Ant Chutney’ as the cure for the deadly virus.
“You see there is a lot of traditional knowledge, even in our homes we have traditional knowledge. These remedies you can have for your own consumption facing the consequence if any on yourself but we cannot ask for applying this traditional knowledge across the country,” a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli said.
Asking petitioner Nayadhar Padhial, a member of the tribal community of Odisha to get vaccinated for COVID, the bench dismissed the plea.
Advocate Anirudha Sanganeria, appearing for the petitioner, said that the Orissa High Court dismissed the plea and they have challenged the order.
The bench said, “The problem started with the High Court directing the director-general of Ayush ministry and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to take within three months a decision on a proposal to use red ant chutney as a remedy for COVID-19. We want to put an end to it.”
It said, “We are not inclined to entertain the Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution. The Special Leave Petition is accordingly dismissed.”
The petition said Red ant chutney, a mixture of red ants and green chilies, is traditionally considered as a medicine in the tribal belts of the country including Odisha and Chhattisgarh for a cure of flu, cough, common cold, fatigue, breathing problems and other ailments.
The petitioner claimed that the ‘Red Ant Chutney’ has a medicinal value as it contains formic acid, protein, calcium, Vitamin B12 and Zinc and its efficacy needs to be ascertained as a cure of COVID-19.
In his plea filed through Sanganeria, the petitioner said that he is a resident of Odisha and belongs to a tribal community, namely ‘Bathudi’ by caste and has moved the High Court on his sincere belief that the ‘Red Ant Chutney’ could be used effectively to boost the immunity system and would go a long way ahead to prevent the infection of COVID-19 virus.
Padhial said that on December 24, last year the high court had directed CSIR and the Ministry of AYUSH to evaluate the claims and subsequently after the representations were made to both authorities, the claim was rejected.
‘Constrained by the rejection of the representation without proper research and study, the Petitioner filed another Writ Petition before the High Court and prayed for referring the matter to another body of experts’, he said.
He said that the High Court rejected his plea while observing that since the CSIR and AYUSH Ministry have not preferred to recommend the claim of the Petitioner to another body of experts, the Court which is not an expert on this subject should not recommend it to the body of experts.
He contended that the High Court erred in law in not exercising its writ jurisdiction for evaluating a localized treatment when in a similar case; the Madras High Court had issued directions and appointed a body of experts for evaluating a localized treatment of COVID-19 in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Padhial said that the High Court erred in law to consider that Right to Health is guaranteed under the Constitution and it ought to have directed the Respondents to verify his claims especially when he had on record the immunity properties of the Red Ant Chutney through Scientific Peer-Reviewed Journals.