Can’t order use of red ant chutney as Covid cure...take jab: Supreme Court

Updated on Sep 10, 2021 04:40 AM IST

“How can we ask the entire country to use a chutney as cure for Covid-19?” the bench, headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud asked the lawyer, appearing for Odisha-based engineer and researcher Nayadhar Padhial who had petitioned the court.

There is no scientific evidence that red ant chutney can protect people against Covid-19. (Shutterstock)
There is no scientific evidence that red ant chutney can protect people against Covid-19. (Shutterstock)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A red ant chutney (sauce) that once made it to British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s menu, drew the attention of the Supreme Court on Thursday as it heard a petition seeking that the delicacy be mandated as a remedy for Covid-19.

“How can we ask the entire country to use a chutney as cure for Covid-19?” the bench, headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud asked the lawyer, appearing for Odisha-based engineer and researcher Nayadhar Padhial who had petitioned the court.

“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,” the bench, which also included justices Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli, added.

There is no scientific evidence that red ant chutney can protect people against Covid-19.

On his part, advocate Anirudh Sanganeria pointed out that the efficacy of the red ant chutney for boosting the immune system of a body has been established through it use for several centuries, besides being corroborated through articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Sanganeria argued that ministry of AYUSH and CSIR refused to entertain his client’s request without referring the matter to a body of experts that could examine the claims through scientific methods.

But the top court remained unimpressed, as it remarked that many people use various traditional methods of curing several diseases but that these do not translate into an order of a constitutional court.

“We cannot pass such directions. Your representations were also considered by the ministry of AYUSH and CSIR before they rejected it,” said the bench.

In the end, Justice Chandrachud asked the lawyer to advise his client to get vaccinated as soon as possible and not rely only on the chutney.

“Ask your client to get vaccinated,” said the judge. Sanganeria responded: “Yes my lords. He has already got the double dose of vaccine. He is also planning to get a booster shot.”

Tribal belts in several states, including Odisha and Chhattisgarh, consume red ant chutney or use it in a soup to cure flu, coughs, common cold, breathing difficulties, fatigue and other diseases. The chutney is primarily a mixture of red ants and green chilies.

Ramsay, who was travelling across India for a documentary on Indian food in 2010, stumbled upon the red ant chutney during his visit to Chhatisgarh. In 2018, he included this chutney in his documentary on international food.

Padhial, who is a resident of Baripada, said he belongs to a tribal community, Bathudi which has been using the red ant chutney effectively to boost the immune system. According to Padhial, the chutney contains formic acid, protein, calcium, Vitamin B12, Zinc and iron that boost the immune system.

He initially approached the Odisha high court last year for examining the chutney’s efficacy as a remedy against Covid-19.

In December 2020, the high court asked the directors general of Ayush ministry and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to rule on Padhial’s representations within three months.

Both the bodies rejected the representations, compelling Padhial to go back to the high court again in April this year. However, this time over, the high court also refused to entertain the plea and Padhial approached the Supreme Court.

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