Red Ant Chutney not COVID-19 Preventive, get Vaccinated: Supreme Court
New Delhi: Denying entertaining a plea claiming red ant chutney could be used as a preventive for COVID-19 infection, the Supreme Court has recently dismissed a plea.
Although the bench comprising of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli agreed that there is a lot of traditional knowledge, it refused grant permission to use it as a cure for the Coronavirus infection, adds Hindustan Times.
"We are not inclined to entertain the Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution," mentioned the bench while dismissing the petition that had challenged the Orissa High Court order in this matter.
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.
Medical Dialogues had previously reported that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the Orissa High Court and in the plea it was proposed 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.
The High Court bench had, back then, 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.
Earlier, both the Ministry of Ayush, the Government of India, as well as the CSIR had rejected the representation of the petitioner. In its communication, CSIR had 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."
While considering the plea, the High Court had dismissed it and had mentioned, "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."
However, the order of the High Court was challenged as the petitioner moved to the Supreme Court.
As per the latest media report by Hindustan Times, advocate Anirudh Sanganeria argued before the top court that the effectiveness of the red ant chutney as a immune booster had been established through its use for several centuries. Further it has been corroborated through articles in peer-reviewed journals as well.
He further argued that the AYUSH ministry and CSIR rejected to entertain the requesting without referring the matter to a experts for examining the claims made through scientific methods.
However, these arguments couldn't impress the Supreme Court bench which opined that many people use various traditional methods of curing diseases but that doesn't mean they will be translated into a court order.
"How can we ask the entire country to use a chutney as cure for Covid-19?" the bench was quoted saying by Hindustan Times.
"If you want to use it, use it. Nobody is stopping you but we, as a constitutional court, cannot ask people to start eating red ant chutney for treatment of Covid-19," added the bench.
Rejecting the plea, the bench noted, "We cannot pass such directions. Your representations were also considered by the ministry of AYUSH and CSIR before they rejected it."
In fact, the daily adds that the top court asked the petitioner to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"Ask your client to get vaccinated," the bench added.
"Yes my lords. He has already got the double dose of vaccine. He is also planning to get a booster shot," replied the counsel for the petitioner.
To read the court order, click on the link below.