Ruling out any attempt to remove Ketan Desai as president of the Medical Council of India (MCI) following his arrest by the CBI on charges of corruption, the Centre on Friday said the Council was an elected body and it was up to it to decide his fate.

“The government can neither elect nor remove the MCI president who has been elected by the members of the Council representing different State Medical Councils,” Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here on the sidelines of a function.

As far as the Centre's intervention was concerned, it had been done by the CBI, Mr. Azad said when asked to react on Dr. Desai's arrest here on Thursday night for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 2 crore from a private medical college in Punjab.

The MCI has been in the limelight lately for having taken several initiatives such as proposing the Bachelor of Rural Health Care course to create a cadre of healthcare workers for rural India. The proposal was broadly approved by the MCI and is now to be taken up by the Ministry.

In December 2009, the Medical Council of India in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare amended the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, prohibiting doctors from accepting gifts, travel facility, hospitality, cash or monetary grants or any other favour from any pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry for self or family members.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (CPI) has described the episode as a matter of great concern. “This is very sad…that such a person was allowed to hold full sway over the entire medical education in the country. It is also common knowledge that the MCI had become a one-man fiefdom and yet the government did nothing,'' CPI national secretary D. Raja said in a letter to Mr. Azad.

Unless there was a total revamp, the associates of Dr. Desai in the MCI would marshal their resources and influence to again outwit the agencies, he said.

He suggested that a special officer take over the MCI.

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