PC PNDT Act: AYUSH Doctors Not Entitled To Perform Ultrasound, pre-natal tests on pregnant women, rules Madras HC
Chennai: In a landmark decision, the Madras High Court has ruled that AYUSH doctors are not entitled to carry out sonographies and other pre-natal diagnostic tests on pregnant women unless they have proper qualification to perform such tests under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Central Act.Justice S.M. Subramaniam clarified that doctors qualified and specialized in...
Chennai: In a landmark decision, the Madras High Court has ruled that AYUSH doctors are not entitled to carry out sonographies and other pre-natal diagnostic tests on pregnant women unless they have proper qualification to perform such tests under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Central Act.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam clarified that doctors qualified and specialized in the field as prescribed under the provisions of the Central Act and Rules alone are eligible to carry out diagnostic procedures and Ultra Sonogram/Ultrasound techniques on pregnant women.
The ruling was passed while dismissing three writ petitions filed by the Tamil Nadu Association of AYUSH Sonologists (TNASS) pending in the High Court since 2017. The petitioners had claimed that they held recognised and valid degrees from recognised institutions in their respective streams of medicine. They said diagnostic procedures were part of their prescribed syllabus for Homeopathy, Ayurveda and other alternate medicine courses.
The doctors also claimed that they have undergone certificate course in ultrasonogram and are fully qualified to carry out various diagnostic procedure and ultrasonogram / Ultrasound technique on pregnant women as long as they do not undertake sex selection before or after conception which is prohibited under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 and misuse the pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination leading to female foeticide.
The petitioners sought to restrain the government authorities from suspending the registration of any genetic counselling centre, genetic laboratory, genetic clinic, or hospital that permits its members to perform ultrasonogram techniques on pregnant women without violating the sex determination law.
The association also sought a declaration that degree holders in Indian systems of medicine were fully qualified to carry out the technique if they had completed the certificate course in ultrasonogram.
The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a respondent in the case, supported the petitioner Association's stand and said there was no impediment for allowing them to perform the said diagnostic procedures.
However, the Tamil Nadu government, argued that doctors must possess qualifications as stipulated under the provisions of the PNDT Act since that was a Central Act.
The court agreed to state government's contention that PNDT Rules of 2014 prescribed a specialised six-month course for carrying out sonography tests for all MBBS doctors. Therefore, the members of the petitioner Association too must possess the qualification under the said Central Rules.
"Mere prescription of general subject in the course of Ultra Sonogram would be insufficient to satisfy the minimum requirements as contemplated under the Special Act."
The Court further clarified that pre-natal diagnostic procedures were special procedures or treatments, and therefore, "the special qualifications prescribed under the Central Act and the Rules must be scrupulously followed by the competent authorities."
It added that;
"The contention of the 9th respondent (CCIM) that as per the prescribed syllabus of BAMS, BUMS, & BSMS of erstwhile CCIM now known as NCISM, the Basic knowledge of ECG, USG, X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI are taught in the colleges would be insufficient and cannot be construed as prescribed qualification within the meaning of the Special Central Enactment. Merely prescribing syllabus for diagnostic procedure or Ultra Sonogram/Ultrasound techniques cannot be considered as a prescribed qualification within the meaning of the Central Act and Rules."
Rejecting the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine’s stand that the syllabus of BAMS, BUMS, and BSMS courses covers the basics about ECG, USG, X-ray, CT scan, and MRI, and therefore, those graduates could practice ultrasonogram techniques, the court held;
"The members of the petitioner's Association if at all qualified under the provisions of the Central Act and Rules framed thereunder are entitled to be construed as qualified Doctors within the meaning of the Central Act for carrying out various diagnostic procedures and Ultra Sonogram/Ultrasound techniques on pregnant women."
To view the original order, click on the link below:
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