NEW DELHI: Parliament on Thursday approved a bill that supercedes the Medical Council of India for two years till September 2020, with the Rajya Sabha passing the measure by a voice vote.
The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019, will replace an Ordinance promulgated on February 21.
The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Replying to the debate on the Bill, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said the Medical Council had miserably failed to deliver and there was a universal perception in the country that it had become a “den of corruption”.
He said reputed doctors have been entrusted with the responsibility to function as Board of Governors and are functioning efficiently.
“We (government) are not interfering in their work but we are minutely observing their actions,” the minister said.
Elaborating on the various measures taken by the Board of Governors, he said, while in 2018-19 a total of 21 medical colleges were sanctioned and this figure rose to 27 in 2019- 20.
The minister highlighted that the number of seats available for post graduate medical courses has also risen to around 35,327 in the current year from 33,422 in 2018-19.
He said as many as 59 people have been removed from the system in an attempt to weed out corruption.
The Indian Medical Council or the Medical Council of India (MCI) was set up under the Medical Council Act 1956, for setting standards for medical professionals, new medical colleges and revision of curriculum, among others.
The Cabinet on June 12 had approved the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which provides for supersession of the MCI for a period of 2 years with effect from September 26, 2018, during which the board of governors will run it.
The move aims to ensure transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country.
The Bill also proposes to increase the number of members in the board of Governors to 12 from the existing seven.
The Health Ministry had come across certain arbitrary action by the MCI in disregard to the provision of IMC Act and regulations.
Further, the oversight committee constituted by the Supreme Court to oversee the functioning of MCI had also cited instances of non-compliance of their instructions and subsequently all its members tendered their resignation.
In view of these developments and to put an alternative mechanism in place of MCI so as to bring transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country, it was decided to supersede the MCI through the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, promulgated on September 26, and entrust its affairs to a board of governors consisting of eminent doctors.
Subsequently, the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 14, 2018, and passed by the House on December 31.
However, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration in the Rajya Sabha.
Accordingly, it was decided to promulgate a fresh Ordinance namely the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, to allow the board of governors appointed in view of supersession of MCI to continue to exercise powers of MCI.
On members query on the National Medical Commission Bill, the Minister said it will try to place it before the Cabinet for approval during the ongoing session of Parliament or latest by the next session.
Participating in the debate, R Lakhmanan (AIADMK) supported the bill and demanded the Centre bring a law to continue the state level selection process for admission into the medical colleges instead of centre’s NEET exam.
Congress Member Jairam Ramesh said he was supporting the bill out of compulsion.
Santanu Sen (AITC) opposed the bill and demanded the bill be referred to an “assurance committee” as the government has not cited reasons for bringing key amendments to the legislature.
Prashanta Nanda (BJD) sought to know how the government plans to strengthen the accountability of Medical Council of India (MCI) and take action against corrupt officials.
He also asked the government to take action against any medical college if it indulges in malpractices in NRI quota.
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