MCI ordinance re-issued, as NMC Bill hangs fire still

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MCI ordinance means education decisions will continue to be taken by a board of governors

Having failed to pass the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill in the just concluded Winter Session of Parliament, government has re-issued an ordinance that allows a government nominated board to run medical education in the country.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017 that seeks to overhaul the medical education system in India and replace MCI is yet to be passed by Parliament. This despite the fact that a Parliamentary Committee had examined the Bill and suggested changes, some of which the government accepted too. In fact the two most controversial provisions of the Bill – a bridge course for practitioners of alternative medicine to allow them to practice allopathy and the proposal for a separate exit or licentiate examination for MBBS doctors have been dropped in the new Bill.

The BoG headed by Niti Ayog member Dr Vinod Paul, includes among its members, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, secretary department of health research Dr Balram Bhargava and Professor Nikhil Tandon

The MCI (amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha but on the face of united resistance from opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha against any legislative business, the Bill could not be passed. It was introduced and a discussion started.

On the other hand, the term of MCI’s elected body members ends soon.

To overcome the situation, the government had recently issued an ordinance to supersede MCI and give its powers to a board of governors (BoG). The BoG headed by Niti Ayog member Dr Vinod Paul, includes among its members, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, secretary department of health research Dr Balram Bhargava and Professor Nikhil Tandon of the endocrinology department of AIIMS.

The BoG will continue to perform till a council is constituted in line with the provisions of the MCI Act in one year.

Amid allegations of corruption against MCI office-bearers and probes into opaque accreditation to medical colleges, the Supreme Court had in May 2016 directed the government to set up an oversight committee with the authority to oversee all statutory functions of MCI. This was till the new legislation comes in.