The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 establishes the Medical Council of India (MCI). The Council has notified Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, and Ethics) Regulations in 2002 which mandates observance of the code of conduct on the pain of suspension or removal of the licence to practice for the breach of its regulations. They include the practice against promising magic remedies and advertisements. To the extent to which the Regulations are directed against practitioners of only the allopaths, it is obvious that we have to look elsewhere for the practitioners of other systems of medicine. The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) established by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in March, 1995 gives no similar guidelines.
It is not merely unethical to prescribe a magic remedy; it is illegal under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act passed as early as in 1954. The Act proclaims its avowed object to be to control the advertisement of drugs in certain cases, to prohibit the advertisement for certain purposes of remedies alleged to possess magic qualities and to provide for matters connected therewith. Magic remedy includes ‘a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals’. Even machines of science or of electric treatment whose magically curative properties are advertised by a person as capable of increasing the sexual virility of a patient is prohibited under the Act. They will be treated as articles intended to influence the organic function of the human body which is prohibited under the Act. A person made an advertisement under the following terms:
New Life, New vigour, New Spirit, New Wave. If you want a cure, see to-day well known world-famous experienced registered Physician. Special diseases such as oldness in youth, all sorts of defects in nerves, or weakness, laziness are treated with full responsibility, with new methods, new machines of science and electric treatment and are cured permanently.
Supreme court held in Zaffar Mohammad alias Z.M. Sarkar v The State of West Bengal (1976) that the advertiser was liable for conviction. No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement referring to any drug in terms which suggest or are calculated to lead to the use of that drug for (a) the procurement of miscarriage in women or prevention of conception in women; or (b) the maintenance or improvements of the capacity of human beings for sexual pleasure; or (c) the correction of menstrual disorder in women; or (d) the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease, disorder or condition in a wide classes of diseases that include cancer, sterility in women, leukoderma and leprosy. A person guilty of the act prohibited shall be punishable after a trial by a Magistrate of First Class (a) in the case of a first conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both; (b) in the case of a subsequent conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
The most popular advertisements for cosmetic surgery are posted in popular websites through internet. They offer privacy of one’s own reading room from where the access to medical information may be picked up through a personal computer. Internet auction sites abound with revolting, weird advertisement for sale of human organs that range between testicles to nude autopsy photos of murdered children (Business Week E.Biz, Nov. 20, 2000). Shocking medical items that have been sold or at least offered for bidding on eBay include organs available for transplanting, drug-free urine, and a male testicle. In one instance, a seller offered a "fully functional kidney for sale" on eBay. (The Top Ten Bizarre Online Auctions
Though much less widespread than medical information or medical advice websites, several websites have auctioned different types of surgeries. For example, the largest private hospital group in South Africa, Netcare, has auctioned off surgeries such as breast reductions, skin resurfacing and liposuctions, where the "winner" received a recovery stay at a plush Johannesburg hotel (The auction was conducted on www.bidorbuy.co.za). Wellesley College even auctioned off a vasectomy as part of a fundraiser (The Washington Times, Aug. 4, 2000).
The Supreme Court of the United States has held that any governmental attempts to regulate or prohibit information posted on websites that is not defamatory may violate constitutional free speech protections (Reno v. ACLU, 117 S. Ct. 2329 (1997)), and the Communications Decency Act immunizes from liability websites that merely host or sponsor information provided by others. But in India, with The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 in place, it shall be possible to proscribe and take penal action against objectionable advertisements that guarantee magic remedies. But how many know that such an enactment exists?