The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that aims to run the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) through a panel of eminent professionals. With this, the government is looking at regulating medical education in India in a qualitative and transparent manner.
The bill passed by the lower house seeks to replace an ordinance issued in this regard in September this year.
“This bill supersedes MCI and the powers of the council have been vested in a Board of Governors (BoG). The BoG has all eminent personalities and includes directors of All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and PGI Chandigarh. This board will continue to perform till a Council is constituted,” said J.P. Nadda, union minister of health and family welfare while piloting the Bill.
“This bill has been issued so that medical education can be regulated in the best manner, as MCI turned out to be a massive failure,” he added.
In wake of allegations of corruption against the MCI office bearers and investigations into opaque accreditation to several medical colleges, the Supreme Court in May 2016 had directed the government to constitute an oversight committee. The apex court had said that the committee would have the authority to oversee all statutory functions of MCI till the new legislation comes in.
In 2017, another Oversight Committee was set up with the approval of the Supreme Court after the expiry of the one-year term of the first panel. The second committee was chaired by V.K. Paul and included eminent doctors including those from AIIMS (Delhi), PGI Chandigarh and NIMHANS. In July 2018, the committee resigned citing instances of “non-compliance of their instructions by MCI”.
Thereafter, the government in September had brought an ordinance–Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018–to supersede MCI. With the ordinance coming into force, the powers of the council were vested in a BoG. The powers of MCI were also switched from the elective council body to the BoG headed by V.K. Paul, member, NITI Aayog. The BoG will continue to perform till a council is constituted in line with the provisions of the Act in one year.
“As the oversight committee constituted by the government on the direction of the Supreme Court had resigned en masse citing the reason that its instructions were not being followed, the government was forced to bring in this Bill as the MCI could not function. Thereafter the government came with an ordinance,” said Nadda .
The related National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017 that seeks to replace MCI with a National Medical Commission and overhaul the medical education system in India is still pending in the Parliament. The government has been pushing the NMC Bill amid resistance from Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other sections.