Guwahati: The supreme court on Tuesday upheld a judgment of the Gauhati High Court striking down an Assam law of 2004 that allowed diploma holders to treat specified common diseases, prescribe drugs and perform minor procedures in rural areas of the state.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna while upholding a 2014 Gauhati High Court judgment declaring the Assam Rural Health Regulatory Authority Act2004, “constitutionally invalid”, ruled that prescription of minimum standards for higher education, authorities to recognize or de-recognise an institution which has exclusive legislative competence to make law lies with Parliament under Entry 66 List 1 of the Constitution, and not the state legislature.
“The Assam Act which seeks to regulate such aspects of medical education is therefore liable to be set aside on the ground that the state legislature lacks competence to legislate with respect to the aspects enumerated above,” the court ordered.
Holding that the Assam Act is in conflict with the Central law, the Indian Medical Council Actthe bench ruled, “Hence, when there is a direct conflict between a state law and Union law, in a matter of coordination and determination of standards in higher education, the state law cannot have any validity.”
Assam had introduced a three-year diploma course in 2004 to improve rural healthcare infrastructure by producing a cadre of diploma holders and allowed them to practice modern medicine to a very limited extent.