Govt. finally appoints its representatives to MMC

Council did not have quorum since December last year

Published - August 04, 2017 11:40 pm IST

Mumbai: After a delay of eight months, the State government has finally appointed its five members to the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) completing the quorum. This will allow the quasi judicial body to get back to its regular functioning and start tackling over 700 medico-legal cases waiting to be heard.

The MMC consists of 18 members, nine of whom were selected through an election process in December last year. While four members come from different medical arms, the remaining five are appointed by the State.

The elected members had sent several reminders to the State to appoint its representatives, and even written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but nothing had moved ahead for a long time.

The five doctors the government has nominated to the council are Bakulesh Mehta from Mumbai, Ajit Gopchade from Nanded, Makarand Vyavahare from Chandrapur, Pratap Jadhav from Jalgaon and Venky Raghuvani from Nagpur.

Dr. Vyavahare’s inclusion, however, has led to an intense debate in the medical community, as he was charged for allegedly sexually harassing a student. He had been transferred to Gondia after several protests by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), but later brought back to Nagpur.

“It is strange how the government has nominated such a controversial doctor,” said a young medical professional who refused to be named.

Pravin Shingare, the head of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, said an inquiry committee did not find anything against Dr. Vyavahare. “He was given a clean chit in the case about two months ago,” Dr. Shingare said.

‘Relief for patients, kin’

The elected members of the council have welcomed the appointment of the government members. “We are glad that the nominations have been announced. The MMC is an extremely important body, and it can now function to its fullest. Mainly, aggrieved patients and relatives will now have some relief,” said Dr. Shivkumar Utture, one of the elected members of the council.

The MMC has, in effect, been defunct since August 2016, when the State appointed an administrator to run it as the council’s tenure had ended in May. Since the administrator holds two other positions — he is an associate professor with the R.A. Podar Ayurveda College and also the registrar of the State’s Ayurveda council — the MMC’s work took a back seat.

Since then, the council has held merely five to six hearings. “Even recently, the administrator was on a long leave while the registrar was working part time,” said one member.

He said cases of medical negligence are dealt with in the ethical committee meetings of the council. The 18 members are generally divided into three teams so that there can be three meetings per week. “But due to lack of a full quorum, this was not possible,” he said.

Besides looking into cases of medical negligence, the MMC also grants and renews registrations of doctors, and serves as an ethical watchdog. This is the only body which can take action against erring doctors other than a court of law.

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