The Supreme Court of India has issued a notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the implementation of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions (NCAHP) Act, 2021. The PIL, filed by the Joint Forum of Medical Technologists of India (JFMTI), specifically seeks the implementation of Section 22(1) of the Act which provides for the establishment of professional councils and state allied and healthcare councils.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, has taken note of the PIL and recognized the importance of the issue raised. In dictating the order, CJI DY Chandrachud directed, “Issue notice. Returnable in 3 weeks. Liberty to serve central agency in addition. We request the learned Attorney General to depute any Additional Solicitor General to assist this Court since the Petition relates to non-compliance with the provisions of the National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professions Act, 2021”.
The PIL highlights the fact that even though the NCAHP Act came into force on May 25, 2021, its provisions have not been implemented even after two years. The petitioners argue that as per the initial timeline, the State Councils should have been constituted within six months. However, the Central Government has repeatedly extended the timeline for implementation, granting five extensions so far. This delay in implementation has prevented the Act from taking effect.
The absence of an institutional framework for certifying degrees and diplomas from recognized institutions is cited as a major hurdle for job opportunities. The petitioners emphasize the need for standardizing syllabi, curricula, teaching staff, and institutions to ensure quality healthcare services. The establishment of a council to set standards for previously unregulated categories is seen as a solution to address this issue.
The petition also raises concerns about the lack of regulation and standardization of Allied Health professionals. Over the years, there has been a demand for a regulatory framework to ensure appropriate regulation and utilization of these professionals. The healthcare system in India has traditionally focused on a limited number of cadres such as doctors, nurses, and frontline workers, leaving several other healthcare professionals unidentified and underutilized. The PIL argues that the implementation of the NCAHP Act is crucial to address this gap and provide recognition and regulation for these professionals.
It is important to note that a similar plea was filed in 2021, seeking the implementation of the NCAHP Act. This plea aimed to enable ordinary people, particularly those in rural areas, to differentiate between doctors of Modern Medicine and Rural/Private Medical Practitioners.
The PIL filed by the JFMTI highlights the need for the timely implementation of the NCAHP Act and the establishment of professional councils and state allied and healthcare councils. It stresses the importance of recognizing and regulating the diverse healthcare professionals in India and providing a framework for their education, certification, and practice. The Supreme Court’s notice in this PIL signifies the judiciary’s commitment to addressing these issues and ensuring the effective implementation of the NCAHP Act for the betterment of the healthcare system in India.