Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't let quacks advertise, HC tells TV

In a bid to prevent private satellite television channels from offering slots to unlicensed medical practitioners who promise remedy to all illnesses under the sky, the Madras high court has said the channels must stop allowing such doctors' from using the TV as platform.

Justice S Nagamuthu, passing orders on a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), has also asked the director-general of police to verify the licences of these doctors' and also inspect the offices of four channels to verify whether the doctors who gave such programmes had licence to practice medicine or whether they are quacks.

Making it clear that the court would not allow quacks to practice medicine, Justice Nagamuthu said the DGP should depute a responsible officer not below the rank of a deputy commissioner of police to verify the claims and records. "On such verification, if anybody is found to be a quack, the TV channels shall stop allowing them to give any programme in future. The police will take appropriate action against such quacks in accordance with law," he said.

As a word of caution, the judge said the police official must ensure that no harm was caused to the reputation of the channels as well as genuine doctors.

In its petition, the IMA's honorary state secretary J Ranganathan complained that many quacks were practising western system of allopathic medicine and violating the provisions of Indian Medical Council Act, Indian Medical Degrees Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, and Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, etc.

He said he doubts as to whether they are really qualified doctors who are licensed to practice or they are only quacks. He said the doctors' were claiming that they could cure diseases like AIDS, kidney disorders, etc. He also wanted the court to issue suitable directions to the media in the interest of the general public.

The channels -- Vijay Television, Raj Television, Raj Digital Plus and Jaya TV -- contended that they allowed only qualified and licensed doctors to conduct programmes. They said the channels were prepared to produced the relevant records for inspection to ascertain the genuineness of the doctors, as they too were interested in the welfare of the public and that they would not allow any quack to conduct TV programmes.

The government, on its part, assured the court that if any quack is found practising, the government would take appropriate action.

Recording both the statements, Justice Nagamuthu said he could not pass any restraint orders as there were no materials to support the allegations that quacks were also conducting programmes on these channels.

Courtesy - TOI

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