Lawmakers to vet medical panel bill

Bowing to the Opposition's demand, the Centre on Tuesday agreed to send the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, to a parliamentary standing committee.

The bill, that seeks to replace corruption-ridden Medical Council of India with a new body, triggered strong protests from doctors who gave a call for a dawn to dusk nationwide strike on Tuesday.

The strike call was withdrawn soon after the Lok Sabha sent the bill to the Standing Committee on Health.

Reading a statement in the Lower House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said several parties, including those from the Opposition and the ruling NDA, wanted the bill to be sent to the standing committee.

The minister, however, requested Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to ask the committee to submit its report before the Budget session, which is expected to begin by the end of January.

The Centre wants to bring in the new law at the earliest, following a Supreme Court order and a standing committee report.

The Speaker said the standing committee report should be tabled before the Budget session.

Normally, the House panels are given three months but there is already one standing committee report on the matter, the Speaker noted.

Health Minister J P Nadda had introduced the bill in the House last Friday amid protests from the Congress MPs, who had demanded an examination of the bill by parliamentarians.

In the Rajya Sabha, Nadda said he had spoken to the representatives of the Indian Medical Association on Monday and put forth the ministry's perspective on the draft legislation.

"The bill is beneficial to the medical community," he said.

Under the proposed bill, there would be four autonomous boards to carry out the regulatory issues dealing with undergraduate and postgraduate education, medical education infrastructure, registration of doctors and medical ethics.

The commission will regulate the fees of only 40% of the seats.

In another contentious provision, the bill provides for an ayurvedic or homoeopathic doctor to prescribe some of the modern medicines after completing a bridge course.

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