Karnataka High Court directs Government of India to consider modification of SOP for treatment of Covid-19 symptoms to protect patients' right of choice
Covid-19: Patients' right to choose medical treatment
A PIL was filed by practitioners of Ayurveda challenging orders of the Government of India, Government of Karnataka, CSIR, and ICMR, which deprives patients of Covid-19 the right to choose the form of medical treatment for management of Covid019 symptoms, including non-allopathic medicine.
The Writ Petition challenged the (i) the ‘Revised Standard Operating Procedure for CCC’ dated 20.7.2020 issued by the Commissionerate of Health & Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka, (ii) Guidelines issued by the Ministry of AYUSH dated NIL, (iii) the CSIR as set out in the RTI response dated 7.5.2020, (iv) the Clinical Management Protocol: Covid-19” dated 17.3.2020 issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (EMR Division), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, (v) the Clinical Management Protocol: Covid-19” dated 3.7.2020 issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (EMR Division), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, (vi) the Advisory dated 22.3.2020 issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, and (vii) Advisory dated 22.5.2020 issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The common feature of the above impugned orders is that a patient testing positive for Covid-19 and who is a firm believer in the Ayurvedic system is not permitted to take Ayurvedic drugs for management of symptoms of Covid-19 such as cough, fever, headache, malaise, shortness of breath and the like if that person is admitted in a government establishment and is forced against their will to take allopathic drugs only.
Petitioners stated at the outset that they are not saying that Ayurveda is a cure for Covid-19. Nor do they propagate such a belief. What they are saying is that many of the symptoms of Covid-19 can be treated with positive results by relying upon the age-old and well-tested systems of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic drugs can generally boost the immune systems and may possibly reduce the severity of the ultimate illness.
What the Petitioners also emphatically said is that they do not want to be forced to take allopathic treatment in government institutions and that they take full responsibility for this decision and any consequence thereof and that they will blame no one for an informed decision taken by them as to the course of their treatment.
What they also said is that they would not, if they were tested positive, resist any lawful government order as to their quarantine so that the consequences of their decision to take ayurvedic drugs only would not be visited on any other person.
The Petitioners relied on the judgment of the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Common Cause v. Union of India (2018) 5 SCC 1, wherein the Court unanimously held that a person has the fundamental right to choose or reject any and all from of medical treatment, even if such decision went against expert medical opinion. The Court held that a person's right to choose the form of medical treatment or to reject medication was absolute.
The Karnataka High Court passed an order on 29th September 2019 directing the Respondent Government of India, Government of Karnataka, CSIR and ICMR to consider the representation of the Petitioner and to consider modification of the orders within a period of one month.