Is MCI clearing all grounds to get tainted Desai back?

The latest from the council’s stable: all decisions of govt-appointed board, which unearthed most irregularities, are null and void!

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | May 15, 2014



In an unprecedented move, the medical council of India (MCI) has decided to invalidate all its decisions taken between 2010 and 2013 – the period when the board of governors appointed by the government was at the helm.

The three-year period was the time when the council’s former president, the tainted Dr Ketan Desai, had been arrested. It was also the time when several irregularities, allegedly carried out during Desai’s regime, were unearthed.

Besides, the council’s former chairman of the council had to face action from the first board, headed by Dr Sarin, and Ketan Desai’s licence was cancelled.

The latest decision – taken by MCI executive committee headed by the council’s current president, Dr Jaysreeben Mehta – says that all decisions taken by the government-appointed “Board of Governors” (BoG) between May, 2010 (when MCI was dissolved following Ketan Desai’s arrest and the BoG selected to run the MCI) and November, 2013 (when BoG was eliminated after the present MCI was established) will be declared null and void.

The decision came at the MCI executive committee meeting on April 16, 2014. It was put up on the MCI website on Wednesday (May 14).

What this means is simple: Ketan Desai and numerous other allegedly negligent and/or “corrupt” doctors who were punished during the board’s tenure may go scot-free.

“No doubt that this is an attempt to restore Dr Desai  and his cronies  whose license remains suspended since 2010, and bring him back to MCI.  This unbelievable decision by MCI also sends a chilling signal to all honest doctors and the public at large,” said Dr Kunal Saha, an NRI doctor who runs People for Better Treatment and is actively campaigning against corrupt practices in MCI and medical institutions and education in the country.

The MCI executive committee members, meanwhile, justified their stance by claiming that since members of the board were “nominated” by the government and not “elected” by their peers, it violates the principles of Indian Medical Council Act. According to them, more than two-third members must be “elected”, not “nominated”.

Ironically,  half the EC members are themselves “nominated”. These include the council president and the vice-president.  Likewise, when the new MCI was formed in December 2013, more than half its members were “nominated”, and not “elected”.

Kunal Saha said, “We have submitted an urgent representation with the health ministry, urging them to remove all EC members from MCI (as provided under law) because their presence in the highest medical regulatory body is detrimental to public interest.”

Dr KV Babu, fighting a battle against endorsement of products by medical professionals, said, “By its action, the MCI executive is acting as if it is above parliament, judiciary and the ministry of health. It (move to nullify all decisions by the board of governors) is atrocious. The MCI executive has no jurisdiction to deliberate upon the legality of the BOG appointed by the President of India, and now it’s acting in an autocratic way.”
As these columns have said earlier Ketan Desai’s reentry in the council is not far (read Did tussle over Ketan Desai lead to health secy's ouster?). Officers in the council as well as the ministry believe this decision by the ministry to nullify anti-Desai decisions, among others, is only the latest ploy to bring him back.

“In the very first meeting it was decided to revoke his suspension by all means. Probes have been ordered against officers who were instrumental in his (Ketan Desai’s) licence suspension,” a senior officer said on conditions of anonymity. “Dr P Raj got suspended, Dr Devendra Kumar has been humiliated and sidelined and the role of retired additional secretary  Prem Kumar is being probed to find what illegalities they have committed in terminating Ketan Desai’s licence.”

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