President Ram Nath Kovind on September 26, 2018 gave his assent to promulgate an ordinance that seeks to establish a committee to run the Medical Council of India, until Parliament passes legislation to replace the body with a new commission.
The presidential assent came after the Union Cabinet cleared the ordinance on the same day. The information was shared by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after the cabinet meeting in New Delhi.
Jaitley said that since the term of the elected body of the Medical Commission of India is slated to end soon, a need was felt to appoint a committee comprising professionals of great eminence to run its affairs. Hence, the ordinance supersedes the MCI and the powers of the council have been vested in a Board of Governors (BoG).
The Board of Governors who would run the MCI will include Niti Aayog member VK Paul, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, PGIMER’s Director Jagat Ram, BM Gangadhar of NIMHANS Bengaluru and AIIMS Professor Nikhil Tandon. and doctors S Venkatesh and Balram Bhargava.
The Director General health services S Venkatesh and Director General ICMR Balram Bhargava will be the ex-officio members of the board.
• A bill to replace the Council with a National Medical Commission is pending in Parliament. The National Medical Commission is expected to replace the Medical Council of India as the top medical education regulator in the country.
• In March 2018, the Union Cabinet had made amendments to the National Medical Commission Bill after considering recommendations made by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare.
• The bill proposes setting up of four autonomous boards to oversee undergraduate and post-graduate courses, assess and accredit medical institutes and register practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
• The bill also proposes a common entrance exam and licentiate exams that all medical graduates will have to clear to get practicing licences.
• The bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee following protests by the medical fraternity across the country on the grounds that it would lead to more corruption in the medical field.
The Supreme Court of India had in May 2016 directed the centre to set up an oversight committee with the authority to oversee all statutory functions of MCI till the new legislation comes in, following allegations of corruption against MCI office bearers and probes into opaque accreditation to medical colleges.
Several MCI members have been accused of taking bribes to fast-track accreditation.
In 2017, another oversight committee was set up with the approval of the top court after expiry of the one year term of the first panel.
In July 2018, the committee resigned citing instances of ‘non-compliance of their instructions by MCI’.
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