New Delhi: Parliament on Thursday approved the legislation empowering the Central government to supersede the Medical Council of India (MCI) and constitute a board of governors, with Rajya Sabha passing the bill amending the Indian Medical Council Act.
The amendment bill, passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, entails reconstitution of the council within one year from the date of its replacement. Until then, a board of governors will exercise the powers and perform the MCI's functions.
The bill deems that the MCI shall stand superseded and the president, vice-president and other members shall vacate their offices without any claim for compensation.
The MCI was dissolved May 15 through an ordinance that established a board of governors to handle the affairs of the council for one year.
Among its functions, the MCI registers medical practitioners, monitors and gives recognition to medical colleges, and degrees to doctors.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad assured members that the government will bring a comprehensive legislation in about six months.
The minister said that the ordinance had been brought under particular circumstances as there was no other option for the government to step in following allegations of corruption at the top level of MCI.
He agreed to the members suggestion that the reconstituted council will have representatives from the states.
Talking of the initiatives taken by his ministry in the past one and a half years, Azad said state governments were being encouraged to set up more medical colleges and area norms for setting up new institutions had been clearly spelt out. He said that seats at MD level had been increased by 4,000 and more admissions were being done for super speciality courses.
The minister said that there was shortage of 5.5 lakh doctors and the government had drawn up innovative plans to meet the requirement of medical staff in rural areas by starting special encapsulated medical courses of four years including six month period of probation.
His reference to the capitation fee charged by private medical colleges owing to high expenditure incurred by them drew protests from Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat.
Azad clarified that he was not justifying capitation fee but only saying that a solution has to be found to the high fee charged by private colleges by offering them some incentives. He noted that the capital cost in setting up a medical college was to the tune of Rs150-200 crore and recurring costs was about Rs.35 crore per annum.
The minister said that population to doctor ratio in urban areas was 2,000:1 while it was 9,500:1 for rural areas.