No power to stem rot in MCI: Azad

No power to stem rot in MCI: Azad

An emotionally charged up Azad said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that when he took over as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir he wrote to all secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners and superintendent of police on his personal pad instructing them not to entertain telephone calls from his wife and son and relatives. The agitated minister then expressed his inability to take any action as the law did not allow him to do so.

The ministry had proposed an amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 to make the council more responsible and to empower the Centre to take steps to make the council more transparent and accountable.

But the parliamentary standing committee on health headed by Amar Singh (SP) rejected the draft bill, arguing that it will destroy the autonomy of the council.

“The time has come for us to revisit the issue. Recent events suggest the need for further reform in all aspects of the structures governing medical education in the country,” he said.

The obvious reference was to the tainted MCI president Ketan Desai who was arrested on April 22 by the Central Bureau of Investigation for accepting Rs 2-crore bribe for granting recognition to a private medical college in Punjab. He is still in CBI custody for interrogation.

Azad said he referred the MCI case to the Union law ministry on April 29 with all previous documentations for the right direction.

The minister’s response comes after members, cutting across party lines objected to the level of corruption at the MCI, which is the sole regulatory body to look after medical education.

This is not Desai’s first brush with the law. In 2002, he was removed from the post of MCI chairman by the Delhi High Court, which asked the CBI to prosecute him. In 2005, the CBI gave him a clean chit saying Desai received Rs 65 lakh from two families as “goodwill money.”

While giving the verdict, the Delhi High Court appointed an administrator. But the vice-president of MCI approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to run the organisation on a day-to-day basis. Subsequently, fresh elections were held under apex court supervision.

Desai, who was elected earlier with 60 per cent vote, received 99 per cent votes this time. Azad said both government and courts tried to stem the rot in the past in MCI with little success.