No Violation Of Fundamental Rights, Upholds Centre’s Decision De-Recognising ‘Vaidya Vidwaan’ Certificates Awarded Between 1975-2010: In Karnataka High Court.

The Karnataka High Court has upheld the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s notification of June 25, 2010 declaring all “Vaidya Vidwan” certificates issued by the Andhra Ayurvedic Parishad between 1975 and 2010 invalid. 

In the case of Dr.Umesh vs Central Council of Indian Medicine (W.A.No.148/2021), a division bench of Honourable Justice S. Sujatha and Justice Ravi V. Hosmani dismissed an intra-court appeal filed by a group of petitioners “Fixing the validity period is not the same as deleting the qualification, as the appellants claim, but rather a declaration that the Vaidyavidwan course will only be recognized as a recognized medical qualification for the time period specified. Under Section 14[2] of the IMCC Act, the Central Government has the authority to amend the Second Schedule by issuing a notification in the Official Gazette.” 

Case Background: 

The petitioners claimed to be Ayurvedic Medicinal Practitioners who were registered with the Karnataka Ayurvedic and Unani Practitioners Board (respondent No.2) and were practicing Ayurvedic medicine based on certificates issued by the Board’s Registrar. All of the petitioners have a Vaidyavidwan Certificate, which was issued by the Andhra Ayurvedic Parishad in Vijayawada (‘Parishad’ for short) between 1976 and 1979. 

They had gone to court to challenge the Central Government’s notification dated 25.06.2010 issued under Section 14(2) of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 [‘IMCC Act’ for short] as it relates to Entry-2, as well as the Board’s action in canceling the appellants’ registration certificates of practice via order dated 18.09.2013 regarding the course of Vaidyavidwan. 

By order dated December 17, 2020, the petition was dismissed by a single judge bench. After that, they filed an appeal. 

Petitioner’s submissions: 

The amendment purportedly made in exercise of the powers under Section 14(2) of the IMCC Act, according to Advocate Balasubramanya B.N, is an administrative act, not a legislative act. As a result, the criteria for challenging a legislative amendment, such as legislative competence or the presumption of constitutionality, do not apply. 

He also claimed that the executive has no authority to change the schedule because the legislature did not intend to include a “validity period” for the recognition of the medical qualification. The executive who made the change to the column’s heading by substituting the words “validity period” for the words “remarks” did so without legal authority.” 

It was also argued that Section 14(2) of the IMCC Act gives the Central Government the power to amend only the II Schedule’s list of recognized medical qualifications and to specify any particular validity period when granted after a specified date. The provision of Section 21(4) of the IMCC Act should have been invoked for withdrawal of recognition, according to the argument. The respondents’ decision to limit the validity period of the Vaidyavidwan qualification between 1923 and 1975 is without legal authority and suffers from a lack of application of mind because there is no factual basis for it. 

The counsel added that when a degree is legally conferred on the appellants/practitioners, it will be treated as a recognized degree. 

Respondents opposed the plea: 

Advocate Manasi Kumar, appearing for the Central Council Of Indian Medicine (CCIM), argued that the Central Government had the authority to invoke Section 14(2) of the Act of 1970 to specify the validity period in the impugned notification dated 25.6.2010 and the impugned orders. 

It was also stated that Schedule II of the IMCC Act recognized some of the old medical qualifications awarded in various Indian states under various enactments in order to protect practitioners who obtained the degree/certificate prior to the IMCC Act’s implementation. It was deemed necessary to give a validity period in order to ensure that old courses are not continued by institutions, which would defeat the object and purpose of the IMCC Act, 1970. 

It was also stated that the IMCC Act of 1970, as a special enactment passed by Parliament, takes precedence over the State enactment. 

Finally, it was argued that the challenge ground is ambiguous. The mere hardship or inconvenience suffered by the appellants would not be sufficient to invalidate the notification issued by the competent authority exercising the statutory power conferred by the Act. The appellants are barred from practicing because the certificates allegedly issued by the Parishad in 1976 appear to be fake, as determined by the Board. 

The Karnataka Ayurveda & Unani Practitioners Board’s lawyer, Sumana Baliga, argued that no writ petition could be filed because the appellants had not used the statutory remedy of appeal under Section 17(4) of the Act of 1961. 

Court findings: 

The court noted that registering practitioners on the Central Register of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy ensures that medicine is not practiced by those who are not qualified in these systems and that those who do follow a code of ethics. 

The court then said, referring to sections of the Act, “The contested notification does not address the withdrawal of recognition; however, it does include a validity period for the recognition of the Vaidyavidwan degree, which is relevant in this case. As a result, exercising power under Section 14(2) of the Act cannot be considered illegal.” 

Further It was said that “There has been no evidence of a violation of fundamental rights. Article 19 of the Constitution is not violated because the right to practice any profession, trade, or occupation under Article 19(1)(j) is subject to the requirement of having a recognized qualification under Article 19(6)(i). Furthermore, the right to health of the general public is important.” 

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