Supreme Court panel to monitor MCI

Endorsing a Parliamentary Standing Committee report of March 2016 that medical education and profession in the country is at its “lowest ebb” and suffering from “total system failure” due to corruption and decay, the Supreme Court on Monday used its rare and extraordinary powers under the Constitution to set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for at least a year.

A Constitution Bench, led by Justice Anil R. Dave, in a 165-page judgment, said that the apex court was constrained to exercise its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution as the government had not acted on the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare.

Its report on ‘The functioning of the Medical Council of India’ was tabled in Parliament on March 8, 2016.

The judgment referred to the parliamentary panel report, which described the MCI as an “ossified and opaque body” unable to cope with the “humongous” task of managing medical education in over 400 colleges across the country.

‘Unethical practices up’ “Quality of medical education is at its lowest ebb, the right type of health professionals were not able to meet the basic health needs of the country. Products coming out of medical colleges are ill-prepared to serve in poor resource settings like Primary Health Centres. Graduates lacked competence in performing basic health care tasks. Unethical practices continued to grow. The MCI was not able to spearhead any serious reforms in medical education,” the judgment said, citing the panel report.

“The MCI neither represented the professional excellence nor its ethos under the MCI Act,” Justice A.K. Sikri, who authored the judgment for the Bench, said, referring to the Parliamentary panel report.

Besides Justice (retired) Lodha, the committee has Professor (Dr.) Shiv Sareen (Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences) and Vinod Rai (former Comptroller & Auditor General of India).

The Supreme Court said the Justice Lodha committee “will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee. The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.” The court referred to how the Centre had set up the Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury expert panel in July 2014 to study the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and make recommendations.

No action taken

Though the committee did submit its report in September the same year, no action was taken on the reforms suggested by it, including overseeing under-graduate and post-graduate medical education.

Unethical practices

Medical professionals indulge in unethical practices conducting unnecessary diagnostics tests and surgical procedures in order to extract money from hapless patients, the judgment said.

“The challenges facing medical education of the 21st Century are truly gigantic... Game changer reforms of transformational nature are therefore the need of the hour and they need to be carried out urgently and immediately,” it said.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2022 8:31:41 am |