Aarti Dhar

Its president Ketan Desai was arrested by CBI on corruption charges

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved an ordinance empowering the government to take over the management of the Medical Council of India (MCI) temporarily to restore its credibility, which took a beating in the wake of the arrest of its president Ketan Desai on corruption charges.

The ordinance seeks to establish a seven-member board of governors comprising eminent persons — all nominated — who will be delegated powers by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to run the council. However, the government retains the right to give policy directions to the board.

The ordinance will be in force for one year by when there would be clarity on whether medical education will fall under the purview of the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) or the National Council for Human Resourcesin Health, both overarching bodies for higher and technical education with the former being piloted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the latter by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Once this is decided, all regulatory bodies in medical, higher and technical education will be disbanded.

Elected body

The MCI is an elected body with no provision for intervention by the Centre. Of its 120 members, there are only eight members from the government. A provision for intervention proposed in a Bill to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 was turned down by the Standing Committee in 2005 on the ground that it would seriously jeopardise the council's independent working and decision-making by its president and vice-president.

Dr. Desai, who was arrested by the CBI last month, resigned from the post on Thursday. His resignation has been forwarded to the Health Ministry.