New Delhi: The Government Tuesday introduced in the Lok Sabha a bill providing for the supersession of Medical Council of India for a period of two years with effect from September 26, 2018. The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was introduced by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the lower house to replace an Ordinance promulgated on February 21, 2019.
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.
Participating in the debate on the bill, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposed the Ordinance route taken by the Government to supersede the Indian Medical Council saying it was unhealthy for democracy. Chowdhury said the Ordinance was promulgated twice by the government despite elections being round the corner. “MCI had become a scam tainted authority,” he said.
Introducing the Bill, Vardhan said in the last two decades, a perception was built that MCI has been unsuccessful in discharging its duties and that corrupt practices are prevalent in the regulatory body. The minister also said the government proposes to bring the National Medical Commission Bill in the near future after getting it cleared from the Cabinet. “Although the National Medical Commission Bill could be introduced in near future but to have legal continuity every Ordinance has to be converted into a law,” he stressed.
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 7.
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 members of the oversight committee 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 was 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.