CHENNAI: Over 180 quacks have been arrested in Tamil Nadu since 2013 and almost all of them have come out on bail within a week or so and started practising again. This fact sums up the way the healthcare system is being ruined by quackery in the state.
The Madras High Court had in 2013 ordered to curb the menace of quackery, but lack of a separate stringent law had been posing a problem. The clout of people involved in the ‘trade’ and also lack of MBBS doctors in remote villages are the other reasons why the health department officials struggle hard to end quackery in the state, say the officials.
In 2013, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) filed a PIL and handed over 30,000 quacks operating in the state to the police department. The Madras High Court, while passing order on a PIL filed by the IMA, then directed the government to act against the quacks. Now the officials are booking the quacks under IPC 419 and 420, Section 15 (2) sub-section (3) of the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act, 1956, and also under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and others, depending on the nature of the offence. Most of them come out on bail within a week or so, said a health department official, who is involved in the anti-quackery drive. These quacks operate either with the support of a qualified doctor or have influence with political parties and the local administration and police.
This is how they go scot-free for decades. So even the health department officials have to think a lot before acting on them. Even, if they do, high profile people come to their rescue immediately, added
the official. The recent case in Tiruvallur district, in which a physiotherapist was helped by a qualified doctor to practise and the arrest of quacks, who have been practising for decades bear testimony to the above statement.
These quacks also develop an affinity with the locals so that they come to the rescue of these quacks. A case in Kalakattur in Kancheepuram district, where quack M Soukath Ali, who was practising for over two decades is one example. Here, though the people know he was a quack, they are left with no option.