The Supreme Court on Monday sought a reply from the Centre on the Indian Medical Association’s plea against a Central Council of Medicine order authorising postgraduate Ayurveda doctors to perform surgeries, reported PTI.

On November 21, the Central Council of Indian Medicine – the regulatory body for the study and practice of Ayurveda in India – amended the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016, to include the regulation to permit post-graduate students of Ayurveda to receive training and practice of “shalya” and “shalakya”. While shalya refers to general surgery, shalakya is related to diseases of the ear, nose, throat, head, eye, and oro-dentistry.

A bench comprised of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian sent notices to the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, Central Council of Medicine, and the National Medical Commission. The notice is returnable within four weeks, and the court asked the parties to file their replies and affidavits.

During Monday’s hearing, senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Indian Medical Association, submitted that the Central Council of Medicine’s decision will “create havoc”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, told the court that the concern is “overpitched for something that has been going [on] for very long”, according to Live Law. “I understand it concerns with health of citizens. Let us file a response,” he added.

The plea has stated that in addition to being contrary to the legislative policy declared by the Parliament, the impugned regulations are also manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable.

It also said that the new regulations had caused “serious prejudice to the rights of millions of medical doctors” in the country who had worked hard to undergo training for attaining the “adequate exposure, experience and qualifications”.

“The impugned regulations have the potential, if not nipped at the bud, of causing serious risk to the safety and the treatment and management of patients who approach the doctors for that purpose through the system of and field of modern medicine,” it added.

On November 22, a day after notification, the Indian Medical Association had criticised the move. The doctors’ association called the decision a “deceptive camouflage of mixing the systems of medicine”. After this, the Ayush ministry had issued a statement clarifying that the amendment was specific to 58 surgical procedures only. However, in a statement on November 24, the body of medical practitioners said: “It is nothing but a blatant attempt at mixopathy and ‘Khichdification’ of medical education and practice.”

On December 11, thousands of doctors across the country staged protests and joined a IMA-led strike that involved the withdrawal of non-Covid-19 and non-essential activities from 6 am to 6 pm.