Lok Sabha passes Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday unanimously passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 aimed at bringing in transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country, and for the supersession of Medical Council of India for a period of two years.

Tabled by Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Bill amends the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and replaces the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) second ordinance, 2019 which was promulgated on February 21, 2019.

The Act sets up the Medical Council of India (MCI) which regulates medical education and practice. Once cleared in Rajya Sabha, the Bill will allow for supersession of the MCI for a period of two years with effect from September 26, 2018 during which a board of governors will run the scam-tainted regulatory body for medical education.

Participating in the debate on the Bill, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he had never opposed the Bill but opposed the “route of the ordinance” taken by the government to supersede the Indian Medical Council, saying it was unhealthy for democracy.

“Executives should not promulgate such ordinance,” he said. The Congress MP from West Bengal’s Bahrampur said this is nothing but a procedural Bill. “You (the government) are simply replacing MCI with board of governors.”

Chowdhury said the ordinance was promulgated twice by the government despite elections being round the corner. “MCI had become a scam-tainted authority,” he said.

Introducing the Bill, Vardhan said in the last two decades, a perception was built that MCI has been unsuccessful in discharging its duties and that corrupt practices are prevalent in the regulatory body.

The Minister said the government proposes to bring the National Medical Commission Bill in the near future after getting it cleared from the Cabinet.

“Although the National Medical Commission Bill could be introduced in near future, but to have legal continuity every ordinance has to be converted into a law,” he stressed.

BJP MP Sanjay Jaiswal said the government should look for “good and whole-time” professors for medical colleges. He stressed that the medcal colleges should not be run by the part-time professors.

Opposing the Bill, DMK’s Gautham Sigamani Pon said the intention of this government was to undermine the powers of the state.Trinamool Congress’s Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (AITMC) suggested the government to do away with the entrance test for medical.

“We should depend upon class 12 qualifying examination marks to get entrance into the medical depending upon the quality of their results because students study very hard for it,” he said.

Speaking in favour of the Bill, YSR Congress Party’s Sanjeev Kumar said the Bill was a necessity. Urging the government to simplify norms for opening of medical colleges, Kumar also demanded a legislation to put a check on growing incidents of violence against doctors. The Bill had lapsed in the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 also proposes to increase the number of members in the board of governors to 12 from the existing seven.

It was the fifth Bill passed in this session of the 17th Lok Sabha.

Earlier, the lower house passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019; the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019; and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019.