Panel opposes more power for Centre over MCI

Panel opposes more power for Centre over MCI

 The government will not have any authority to remove the office-bearers of the Medical Council of India (MCI) even if proven guilty in a court of law, if it chooses to adopt the recommendations made by a House panel.

“The powers of removal should not be given to the Central government. Instead it should remain confined to the council only,” the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare said in its report tabled in  Parliament on Monday.

The panel was reviewing the Indian Medical Council (amendment) bill, 2013 which seeks to recreate the MCI with certain safeguards after the scam-tainted council was dissolved in 2010 as the CBI caught its president Ketan Desai red-handed while taking bribe money from a medical college representative.

The Union Health Ministry's subsequent efforts to create an alternate regulatory structure for medical education did not go very far in  Parliament. The ministry was left with no other option but to recreate the MCI with  safeguards in place to prevent misuse of the office by its president, vice-president and other office- bearers. The bill — introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session — has a provision to remove the office- bearers if the person has been convicted of an offence involving”moral turpitude”; “has acquired financial or any other interest in medical institutions falling within the purview of the council” and “has been guilty of proved misbehaviour”.

“Such sweeping powers will destroy the very autonomy of the council as it would not be possible for the functionaries and members of the council to function and take any decision independently,” said the committee headed by Rajya Sabha MP Brajesh Pathak (BSP).

Apprehending that MCI members might not be able to act independently because of the punitive clause, the panel said powers of removal should remain confined to the council only and principle of natural justice were followed in “true letter and spirit” without any arbitrary action.

Experts who deposed before the panel also stated that the provision would be dangerous and such punitive powers should be with the MCI. A copy of the report released for the media, however, does not identify the persons who spoke before the committee.

Incidentally, Desai, who spent almost seven months in jail and is out on bail waiting for his trial to start, was re-nominated to the MCI by Gujarat University last month.
The panel also recommended doing away with two more provisions, which gives the union Health Ministry to revoke or amend MCI decision on policy matters.

The health ministry would decide what constitutes such policy matters.

These provisions are against democratic tenets and are impermissible and unsustainable before the law. Such sweeping powers will destroy the very autonomy of the council, the panel added.

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