Dismissed: PIL proposing red ant chutney as COVID cure
Cuttack: The Orissa High Court dismissed a plea proposing that 'Kaai (Kukuti) Chutney (paste)' which is prepared using red ants, can be used as an immunity booster which can prevent infection through the COVID-19 virus.
Hearing the second round of litigation through video conferencing, the bench of Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice B. P. Routray dismissed the petition observing that specialized bodies like CSIR and the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences are not inclined to recommend the universal application of red ant chutney for therapeutic or medicinal purposes.
In his plea, the Petitioner, who works as Assistant Engineer (Civil), Takatpur, R & B Section, Baripada, District Mayurbhanj and belongs to the Bathudi Tribal Adibasi Community had 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. He claims that the said 'red ant chutney can prevent infection through the COVID-19 virus.
The plea states that this chutney has several "anti-bacterial properties" that may help fight any infection in the digestive system. The chutney is also rich in protein, calcium, and zinc that help to increase immunity, the plea added.
For the uninitiated, the extremely hot and spicy Red ant chutney is a sought-after delicacy in the tribal belts of the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Prepared as a mixture of red ants, their eggs, coriander, garlic, and green chillies, this chutney is traditionally used by the indigenous populations as a remedy for flu, cough, common cold, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and other ailments.
Earlier, the petitioner had filed his plea before the court asking for judiciary's intervention after his representations calling for more research into the efficacy of using "red ant chutney" as a COVID cure, to the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) were not considered.
Thereafter, the court disposed of his petition with a direction to the ICMR and CSIR to take a call on the matter and pass appropriate direction within three months
After a thorough consideration both the Ministry of Ayush, the Government of India, as well as the CSIR, rejected his representation through a joint communication dated 21st January 2021 addressed to the petitioner.
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.
Meanwhile, the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences 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."
Petitioner, through his counsel, requested the court to issue a notice to the Ministry of Ayush as well as CSIR directing them to refer the matter to another body of experts which was subsequently declined by the court.
"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 court further remarked,
"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 added,
"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."
To read the order, click on the link below-