An ordinance seeking to replace the existing body running the Medical Council of India or MCI with a government-appointed committee has been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The committee or the ‘Board of Governors’ has now been appointed by the government in “supersession of the MCI”. The Board members include persons of eminence in the medical field.
Pending parliament’s approval to the bill, the government has chosen to go for the ordinance since the term of the existing committee running the MCI ends in November.
A bill to replace the MCI with a National Medical Commission (NMC) has already been presented in parliament. A parliamentary standing committee has also made its recommendations, but due to the time factor, the bill “has gone into an area of uncertainty.”
National Medical Commission Bill:
The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
According to the draft bill, the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practicing or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
Recognized medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.
The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:
- Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections, and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.
- Recognition of medical qualifications.
- Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register.
- Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.