President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Saturday signed an ordinance empowering the government to dissolve the Medical Council of India, a regulatory body responsible for maintaining standards of medical education.
With the promulgation of the ordinance, the government created a seven-member Board of Governors that took over the functioning of the 30-member executive council, the highest decision-making body of the MCI, that stands dissolved. The remaining council has been kept in “abeyance.”
While there is a provision for a board of seven members, the Centre announced six members including the chairperson. The Board of Governors will be chaired by Dr. S.K. Sarin, Department of Gastroenterology, G.B. Pant Hospital. The other members are: Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore; Dr. Gautam Sen, former Dean of the J.J. Hospital Mumbai; Dr. Sita Nayik of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Medical Institute in Lucknow; Dr. Ranjit Roy Chowdhury, clinical pharmacologist and Emeritus Scientist at the National Institute of Immunology, and Dr. S.M. Salhan, Dean of Sikkim-Manipal University.
Amending the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the government has inserted Article 3 (a) through the ordinance that authorises the government to intervene in matters of “national policy.”
In case of a dispute over “national policy,” the view of the government will prevail.
The ordinance will be in effect for one year. The original executive body will become functional again, if the government does not dissolve the MCI. However, in all probability the government will split the MCI with medical education falling within the purview of the National Commission for Higher Education and Research as proposed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the licensing part going with the National Council for Human Resources in Health being piloted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
An elected body, the MCI went into a crisis after its president Ketan Desai was arrested by the CBI on charges of corruption. However, the government had no powers to intervene and restore the credibility of the institution before the ordinance was promulgated.