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Azad calls on Manmohan over MCI ordinance

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Ghulam Nabi Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad

Aarti Dhar

It is to be sent to President for promulgation

NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to finalise the finer points of the ordinance that seeks to keep the Medical Council of India in “abeyance” and establish a seven-member Board of Governors to manage its functions.

Mr. Azad, who called on the Prime Minister in the evening before leaving for Geneva to attend the World Health Assembly, also discussed the names of those who are likely to be nominated to the Board.

The ordinance, approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, will be sent to President Pratibha Patil within the next couple of days for promulgation. Thereafter, the new setup will come into force. However, the ordinance does not give the government any power to “dissolve” a body that is created by an Act of Parliament; this could be done only through another Act of Parliament.

The Board of Governors has been given a year's time to decide on the fate of the MCI that was created through the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The Council's functions are likely to be split, with medical education and licensing to be brought under two different regulatory bodies.

Union Health and Family Secretary Sujatha Rao told reporters here that the government would soon bring in law for the formation of an over-arching body to regulate medical education in the country. A draft law would be formulated in a month. “We have suggested an over-arching body that will be responsible for maintaining standards and regulation of medical colleges.” The former MCI president, Ketan Desai, was arrested by the CBI on April 22 for allegedly taking Rs. 2 crore as bribe to grant permission to a medical college in Punjab. He has since put in his papers.

The government proposed an amendment to the MCI Act in 2005 to ensure some measure of government control over the body. But the proposal was turned down by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

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