Govt sacks MCI members, picks new panel to run it

The Board of Governor (BoG) will be chaired by NITI Ayog member Vinod Paul, a former professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

In a surprise move, the NDA government on Wednesday promulgated an ordinance to remove all the office-bearers of the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) and appoint a seven-member Board of Governor (BoG) to run the medical education regulator for the next one year.

The BoG will be chaired by NITI Ayog member Vinod Paul, a former professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

The other members are: Randeep Guleria, director, AIIMS; Jagat Ram, director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; B N Gangadhar, director of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, and Nikhil Tandon, professor at AIIMS.

Two ex-officio members on the panel are Balram Bhargava, secretary, Department of Health Research and director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, and S Venkatesh, director general of health services in the Union Health Ministry.

Within hours of President Ram Nath Kovind signing the ordinance, the BoG members reached the MCI headquarters at Dwarka in south west Delhi to take over the administrative affairs of the council, health ministry sources told DH.

According to the law, the ordinance to amend the Indian Medical Council Act 1956, needs to be replaced by a legislation within six months. For the moment, it paves the way for the BoG to steer the MCI for the next one year and stem the rot.

The BoG may be in place till a new regulatory body — National Medical Commission — comes into effect. A legislation to set up the commission is pending in the Lok Sabha.

In the past, when it was trying to replace the MCI with another governing body, the UPA government too appointed a BoG to run the council. The BoG was in place for three years, but the Centre failed to pass the law in Parliament to create the proposed regulatory body.

Following that exercise, the MCI was reborn in 2013. Two years later, the Supreme Court asked the central government to form an oversight committee to examine all statutory functions of the MCI. In July 2018, the oversight committee members resigned, citing noncompliance of their instructions by the MCI. They said MCI not only misinterpreted the Supreme Court order, but also challenged the authority of the committee.

“In such circumstances, when the Supreme Court-mandated panel is unable to function due to noncooperation of the MCI and the NMC bill is pending in Parliament, certain immediate states are required to be taken. Accordingly, the ordinance to supersede the MCI has been promulgated,” said an official.

“All the BoG members are eminently qualified and apolitical. Further, five of the seven were members of the Supreme Court-appointed oversight committee. It is expected that the BoG will bring about urgent and much-required reforms in the field of medical education and promote access to quality healthcare for all,” he said.

The government appointed Sanjay Srivastava, a former deputy director general at DGHS, as the secretary general to assist the BoG.

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