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.
"The National Medical Commission Bill could be introduced in the near future, though for having legal continuity, every ordinance has to be converted into a law," he stressed.
Explaining about the Bill in his concluding remarks, the Minister said his government's intention is honest and that it did not want to grab MCI.
He said the board of governors in last eight months has done a very exciting work. "There is an increase of a total of 15,000 MBBS seats which has happened for the first time. It is a 25 per cent increase in the seats. The number of medical colleges has also been increased to 37 this time which was 21 in 2018-2019 and 14 in 2017 and 2018."
Of the 37 medical colleges, the number of government and private colleges are 25 and 12 respectively.
He said the governement would soon come up with National Medical Commission Bill and that over 30-32 lakh people have availed benefits of government's Ayushman Bharat scheme.
Vardhan stressed that there would be a radical reform in medical field within 2-3 years.
Kollam MP N.K. Premchandran opposing the bill said the bill needs to strengthen the medical facilities and improve health care, medical science and technology.A
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 the government was to undermine the powers of the state. Trinamool Congress's Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar suggested the government do away with the entrance test for medical education.
"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 Lok Sabha 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.