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Delhi HC makes IMA party in PIL advocating for holistic approach to medicine

New Delhi: in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and a BJP leader, advocating for a holistic approach to medicine, the Delhi High Court made the Indian Medical Association (IMA) party. Previously, IMA had moved an impleadment application, which was allowed by the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora. Allowing the application the court said, “Present application is allowed. Respondents, including the newly-impleaded respondent, will file their replies.”

Recently, the court had asked the committee established by the NITI Aayog to expedite the process of formulating a comprehensive integrated medical system that combines the strengths of various branches of medicine. The Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma (recently elevated to Supreme Court) and Justice Sanjeeb Narula had acknowledged the wealth of knowledge present in different medical systems, such as Allopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. The court had suggested that it should be explored whether these various branches of medicine can be integrated. The Bench had said that these medical systems are distinct branches with differing understandings of the human body and that all bodies are unique. It had expressed a belief that if this knowledge can be integrated, it could lead to a more comprehensive healthcare approach. Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Indian Government, supported the idea of integration, asserting that it would incorporate “the best of everything.”

The court had also clarified that the matter of integration should be determined by experts. It stated, “It is not for you and me to decide. It is for the experts to decide.” Upadhyay had informed the court about the existence of a committee established by the NITI Aayog to address the issue. In response, the court urged the committee to expedite its work on this matter. Furthermore, the court had included two additional entities, the Medico Legal Action Group and the Patanjali Research Institute affiliated with yoga exponent Ramdev, as parties to the proceedings. Earlier, the court had sought the reply of the Central government and other respondents to the plea seeking the adoption of an Indian Holistic Integrated Medicinal Approach rather than a colonial segregated way of Allopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy in order to secure the right to health. In order to support the PIL, the Patanjali Research Institute had, in September 2022, filed an intervention application seeking their impleadment in the matter.

To secure the right to health, the plea also seeks to implement a Holistic Integrated Common Syllabus and Common Curriculum of Allopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy in all medical colleges. The petitioner has submitted that in spite of huge investments, the current healthcare system of India was not able to benefit the Indian population in fighting against acute and chronic diseases. “Health care delivery in India is classified under three categories primary, secondary, and tertiary care. All three levels need to work cohesively to help deliver healthcare on all four pillars,” he said.