Not a quack but a ‘pretender’ | Daily News

Not a quack but a ‘pretender’

There are doctors and quacks, and others who do not fall into the category of medical professionals quite easily, but may just qualify. A case in point is Registered Apothecaries who can be registered as medical practitioners and are entitled to practice medicine.

Such a person sought a Writ of Certiorari in the Court of Appeal (Dr. Kirushnar Suppaiah v. Sri Lanka Medical Council - SLR - 330, Vol 2 of 2006 [2006] LKCA 37; (2006) 2 Sri LR 330 (April 25, 2006)), quashing the apparent decision to omit his name from the regular list of Medical Practitioners whose names are listed under terms of section 20(1)(a) and/or section 26 of the Medical Ordinance.

The petitioner also asked for a writ of prohibition preventing publication of names in the Gazette in terms of any other section of the Medical Ordinance. In simple terms, though not a regular practitioner with MBBS qualifications, he wanted to be classified as such, and moreover wanted any other list of so-called medical practitioners to be taken down. In other words being an Apothecary he sought to be classified and listed as a regular medical practitioner, as any other physician would be.


The Appeal Court case record states:

“The Petitioner in this application has sought a Writ of Certiorari to quash the decision of the Respondents not to include the Petitioner's name as a Medical Practitioner in the registers maintained in terms of section 20(1 )(a) and/or section 26 of the Medical Ordinance. The Petitioner also has sought a Writ of Mandamus directing the Respondents to publish a copy of the Medical Register kept under and in terms of sections 20(1)(a) and/or 26 with the Petitioner's name included in it and for a Writ of Prohibition preventing the Respondents from publishing any register of Medical Practitioners in the Gazette in terms of section 29 and/or any other section of the Medical Ordinance.”

In this Regard the Respondents i.e. the relevant medical authorities, including the Registrar of the Medical Council, had submitted that the person was never listed under terms of Sections 20(1)(a) of the Medical Ordinance. The petitioner however contended that his name was published in a Gazetted list under the said Ordinance, and had since not been deleted or erased, which meant that his name should be published in the new list also.

The due distinction made here by the Court was that the law has clearly laid down that there are two categories of medical practitioners, one of which are qualified to be practitioners and the other that are entitled to be practitioners. Obviously the qualified category is those who have obtained qualifications from a recognized University that confers medical degrees. Those who are entitled to register themselves on the other hand, are Government Apothecaries and Estate dispensers.


The judgement goes onto state:

“Section 38 prohibits a person to practice medicine or surgery other than a medical practitioner. This section provides: 38. No person, not being a medical practitioner, shall-

(a) take or use any name, title, or addition implying a qualification to practice medicine or surgery by modern scientific methods, or implying or tending to the belief that he is a medical practitioner registered under this Ordinance, or by any act or omission intentionally cause or permit any person to believe that he is a registered medical practitioner, and to act upon such belief; or

(b) except as mentioned in section 41, practice for gain, or profess to practice, or publish his name as practicing medicine or surgery.”


The exceptions however are provided to ‘those who are entitled to practice’ under the following circumstances:

“An exception is provided under section 38(b) for a person to practice medicine other than a medical practitioner if that person is a Government apothecary, estate apothecary or estate dispenser as provided in section 41(1). This section has made it lawful for these categories of persons to practice medicine provided they are either employed in the public service as an apothecary and for the time being in charge of a dispensary or hospital or registered under sub-section (2), (2A), (28), (2C) of section 41 respectively. The Medical Ordinance under the above sub-section requires the registrar to maintain separate registers under the relevant subsection to register the persons under the relevant sub-section and erase there from the name of any person ordered to be erased by the Medical Council under sub-section (3) of section 41.”

However the other significant aspect of the case is that the relevant authorities never published the Registration details regularly in a list. When the case was taken up it transpired that the last list was published in 1992 after which lists were published in 2002 and 2003.

This, the Petitioner submitted was a dereliction of duty as the relevant Ordinance required the authorities to publish a list each year. But that was not possible, contended the Registrar because the list was comprehensive and the Government printer couldn’t be expected to keep up. At least his submissions were to that effect. However, that submission did not help the Petitioner’s case as there were several other factors militating against his application for the various writs.

On the one hand the fact that the petitioner did not adduce proof that his name was indeed in the previously published practitioner’s registry did not stand him in good stead. The Respondents denied the Petitioner’s name was on it. Court ruled that after the relevant Amendment (as seen below in the judgement excerpt) the Petitioner’s name could only be published in the list of practitioners under one Section of the Ordinance, Section 20(1 )(bb) and not the other section 20(1 )(a) as he comes under exception of those who though not qualified to practice, are entitled to be registered as medical practitioners, as explained in the previous paragraphs.


The judgement excerpt is as follows:

“The Petitioner's entitlement to have his name entered in the relevant register has already been discussed above and the Petitioner under the relevant provisions could have his name registered only under section 41(2) and it would have appeared in the said relevant register kept and maintained under section 41(2) before the Medical (Amendment) Act, No. 30 of 1987 was brought into operation. Thereafter his name should have been included in the register maintained under section 20(1 )(bb) but the petitioner is not entitled to claim that his name should be included in the register maintained under section 20(1 )(a) as this register contains the Medical Practitioners registered under section 29 of the said Ordinance and the Petitioner falls within the category of the exception provided under section 38(b) of Part V. This application is dismissed without costs.”

The applications for Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition were not upheld.


Add new comment