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Orissa High Court Dismisses Plea Proposing Red Ant Chutney As COVID-19 Cure

Sparsh Upadhyay
10 April 2021 5:14 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Dismisses Plea Proposing Red Ant Chutney As COVID-19 Cure
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The Orissa High Court on Friday (09th April) dismissed a plea which claimed that that 'Kaai (Kukuti) Chutney (paste)' which is prepared using red ants, can prevent infection through the COVID-19 virus. Dismissing the plea, the bench of Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice B. P. Routray said that the use of red ant chutney or soup by the tribal communities for medicinal...

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The Orissa High Court on Friday (09th April) dismissed a plea which claimed that that 'Kaai (Kukuti) Chutney (paste)' which is prepared using red ants, can prevent infection through the COVID-19 virus.

Dismissing the plea, the bench of Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice B. P. Routray said that the use of red ant chutney or soup by the tribal communities for medicinal and therapeutic purposes is based on their traditional knowledge systems which the Court is hardly equipped to comment upon.

The plea before the Court

The Petitioner before the Court is working as Assistant Engineer (Civil), Takatpur, R & B Section, Baripada, DistrictMayurbhanj and he belongs to the Bathudi Tribal Adibasi community.

In his plea, he claimed that 'Kaai (Kukuti) Chutney (paste)' which is prepared using red ants, mixed with green chilly (Dhanua Lanka) is a potent medicine that can boost the immunity system and thus, could prevent infection through the COVID-19 virus.

Earlier when the petitioner's representations to the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) were not considered, the Petitioner had filed a plea, which was disposed of by the Court with a direction to the ICMR and CSIR to take a decision on his representation.

Thereafter, Petitioner's representations were considered both by the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India as well as the CSIR.

In its communication, CSIR said that it currently does not have the required expertise in the domain of entomophagy and therefore would not be able to pursue any action in the matter.

As regards the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, it noted that it could not find any reference from the classical books of Ayurveda mentioned in the First Schedule of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 on the internal use of red ant chutney as claimed by the Petitioner so as to validate it as Ayurvedic medicine.

Therefore, it was stated that the use of red ant chutney or soup for the beneficial use by the COVID-19 patient is "out of the purview of Ayurveda drugs as per regulatory provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945."

The counsel for the Petitioner insisted that both the Ministry of Ayush as well as CSIR ought to have referred the matter to another body of experts and the petitioner prayed before the Court that it should issue notice in the present petition for that purpose.

To this, the Court said,

"The Court is not inclined to accept the above prayers. These are matters best left for decision by the specialized bodies like CSIR and the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, which themselves have several experts."

Significantly, the Court said

"The Court does not possess the requisite expertise to sit in appeal over the decision of the aforementioned expert bodies who, for reasons stated by them, are not inclined to recommend their universal application for therapeutic or medicinal purposes."

The petition was accordingly dismissed.

Case title- Er. Nayadhar Padhial v. Union of India [W.P.(C) No. 8317 of 2021]

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