Ban on Adulterated Ayurvedic Medicines: SC declines to entertain PIL stating “Who claims that adulterated medicines are acceptable?”

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On December 04, 2023, the Supreme Court (SC) bench, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Manoj Misra, and Justice JB Pardiwala, declined to entertain a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) seeking a ban on adulterated ayurvedic medicines. Also, the PIL called for action against manufacturers accused of adulterating ayurvedic medicines with substances such as steroids, mercury, and lead. The bench refused to entertain the matter at the outset and observed how the Court could entertain such a writ when the adulteration of medicines is already illegal. It said, “How can we provide relief in a writ like this? Who claims that adulterated medicines are acceptable? However, we cannot issue a writ on these grounds.”

During the court proceedings, Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid along with Advocate-on-Record Farheen Fatims, appearing for the petitioner, submitted, “This is about indiscriminate use of steroids in Ayurvedic formulations.” The SC remarked, “But how can we grant these kinds of relief?” The relief sought in the PIL includes, “(i) Issue writ in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction against the respondents to mandate the Article 19(1)(g) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India, (ii) direction declaring a ban on adulterated ayurvedic medicine, (iii) direction or guidelines to identify companies involved in manufacturing and selling adulterated ayurvedic medicines and blacklist them.”

 Further, the CJI asked the SA to pursue other remedies, “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.” In the PIL, Vishnu Kumar (petitioner) claimed that he had some Ayurvedic medicines tested in a government lab and found steroids and other harmful chemicals in those medicines. These chemicals have negative and irreversible effects on the human body. It added, “These medicines are still sold across the country and even in some of the South-Asian Countries under the label of 100 percent Ayurvedic and no action is taken by the respondents. It is also contended that the official, the Drug TI Controller, and the Health Ministry have collectively concealed the matter at hand from flourishing or any action being taken against such companies.”

After hearing the matter, the SC bench dismissed the PIL stating that “the petitioner should seek remedies before a competent authority.”