Health ministry tweaks rules to put own officers in medical council

Indian medical association, doctors slam move, say amendment in recruitment rules done to put IAS/IPS officers as MCI secretary

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | June 15, 2013


What`s cooking in there? The Medical Council of India headquarters at Dwarka in Delhi
What`s cooking in there? The Medical Council of India headquarters at Dwarka in Delhi

Having faced flak from the medical fraternity for putting its man in the medical council of India (MCI), the apex body to regulate uniform and high standards of medical education in the country, the health ministry now seems hell-bent on steamrolling its way through. In a highly controversial decision that has been slammed by the Indian medical association (IMA), which represents doctors across the country, the ministry has amended recruitment rules to pick the MCI secretary.

As part of the new rules, the MCI can have its administrative head from non-medical background as well. This means even an IAS or an IPS officer is eligible for the post, according to the amendment recruitment rules notification, 2013. The decision has also been advertised in the media and on the official website of the MCI.

The apex body to regulate medical colleges, their affiliation, new colleges, and doctors’ registration, the MCI is working without a regular secretary since 2012, when Dr Sangeeta Sharma, a medical practitioner with over 15 years experience, was sacked, purportedly on flimsy grounds. The incumbent, RP Meena, an IPS of the Odisha cadre, was appointed as an interim secretary recently, and stirred a controversy immediately as the Indian medical association lodged a strong protest over selection of a secretary from the non-medical community.

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Meanwhile, with Dr Sharma having taken her complaint to the central administrative tribunal (CAT), and the case being sub judice, it has been clarified that a new secretary can be appointed subject to the outcome of the case. The case will be heard next on July 18.

But the present move by the health ministry, which now runs the MCI through a board of governors after the MCI was dissolved by an ordinance in 2010, is seen as an effort to legitimise non-medical officers’ stints as the council’s secretary.

According to IMC Act-1956, the post of secretary is a statutory position as administrative head of the council for implementation of rules and regulations to maintain uniform standards of medical education in the country.  

The latest advertisement on the post of secretary [MCI Recruitment (Amendment) Rules 2013 notification no.MCI-154(3)2013-estt.6576] clearly indicates that the council’s secretary will not necessarily be a medically qualified person or a registered medical practitioner, as mandated by schedule-1 of IMC Act.

...And they all slam decision

While Dr Prasanna Raj, additional secretary of the council, refused to interpret the recent order– “I cannot comment on it as I am not the right person to speak about it,” he told Governance Now –a group of doctors fighting for improving medical education in the country have criticised the move.

Stressing that the government, by modifying the recruitment rules, has “snatched the post secretary from the medical profession”, Prof MC Gupta, an advocate and medico-legal consultant, said, “The post will now be filled from among officers of all-India services. We (doctors) must come together and fight it in court.”

The Indian medical association, too, considers it a move meant to “ruin” the medical profession. "This rule has been made by ignoring the executive board and the general board meeting of the council. Can they do the same in other associations, like the bar council for instance?” asked Dr DR Rai, national vice-president of the IMA.

Meanwhile, Dr Sangeeta Sharma, who claims to have been “illegally” sacked and is fighting the order in CAT, said, “The MCI made false averment in the court (stating) that they have not started the process of appointment of a new secretary. The next day, on June 8, they advertised the post of secretary.” She also hoped that the court would take action against the medical council for misleading and lying to the court.

An amendment was earlier brought out in 2003, allegedly to favour Dr Ketan Desai by relaxing the number of years of service required for internal candidates and Dr ARN Setalwad was appointed.

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