eMedinewS Editorial from Dr K K

Medicine 317 Comments

Is Dr Setalvad next in line?

Dear Colleague

Dr. A R N Setalvad, Secretary MCI,  is the only loyalist of Dr. Ketan Desai who is at present working in the Medical Council of India. Will he  be the next to go? It is highly unlikely that the Government of India would like to keep any Desai loyalist in the present scenario, be it Dr. Setalvad or the lawyers handling MCI cases. Will Dr. Setalvad resign himself or will be asked to go is only a matter of time.

The MCI ordinance

Yesterday in my editorial  I had clarified that it’s not MCI which is dissolved but the elected council of MCI which has been replaced by six eminent and respectable medical professionals who will perform all the functions of the council for the next one year. To substantiate my editorial, I am reproducing the MCI ordinance as passed by the Government of India for the benefit of our readers. Kindly check it at the bottom of this newspaper for the same before the Reader’s Response.

Another CBI case against Dr. Desai

CBI on Thursday registered another case against Dr. Ketan Desai who is currently in Tihar Jail on corruption charges.

The disproportionate asset case has been filed by CBI not only against Dr. Desai but also against his wife and mother. As per the CBI Director, Mr. Ashwini Kumar, CBI has found assets to the tune of Rs. 25 crores in his and his family’s name. Mr. Ashwini Kumar further said that there has been systemic corruption in the Medical Council of India for the last one year. The case was filed as a part of CBI’s probe into the alleged malpractices within Medical Council of India.

CBI has found enough evidence in the case for which Dr. Desai was arrested as one inspector in Medical Council of India who had visited Gyan Sagar Medical College, Patiala has since become an approver. Mr. Ashwini Kumar further said that CBI has so far received 154 complaints against Medical Council of India from the public through its websites. CBI is going into the merit of each case and will then decide on which complaint to register a case. The link on the website through which someone can complain against MCI will remain open till May 31.

IMA Response–a timely act or untimely knee jerk reaction?

The present reaction of IMA opposing the dissolution of the MCI has come late after weeks of silently watching the events unfold over these past days. It is unfortunate that when their undisputed leader whose photograph appears on the top of every page of IMA website and who had been given a permanent room in IMA Headquarters, was in difficulty and facing corruption charges, none of the present officer-bearers of IMA dared to talk against him or openly support him. Many of their statements to the media initially were to the effect that “IMA has nothing to do with MCI”.

Now, when the Government of India has already dissolved the 150-member elected body of the Medical Council of India and replaced it with 6-member Panel, the IMA is trying to oppose the ordinance. If they were really serious about this issue, they should have registered their opposition before the ordinance was passed by the Parliament and approved by the President.

It was DMA which raised the issue, before the ordinance was passed, in a special requisition meeting that MCI autonomy should be maintained. For all practical purposes, the Government of India has not dissolved the MCI but has rightfully replaced the 150-member elected council with a panel of eminent doctors and not bureaucrats or others.

The six eminent doctors in the panel enjoy both credibility and status in the medical profession. Many fear as to how a 150-member council would be run by six members. Thus far, the MCI was practically being run by one person and not its 150 members. The remaining 149 were silent spectators to the decision by the president.

Practically speaking, the duties of the President are being divided amongst these six members for effective running of the council. They are free to go to people, make committees of the inspectors for proper and efficient functioning of the council. The very fact that the council has eminent medical personalities maintains its autonomy. In the day-to-day functioning of the council, even today, there will be no interference of the Government.

‘What happens to the council after one year when the autonomy of the present panel is over’ is an important issue that remains to be seen. Will it revert to the same old elected body or the Government will totally overhaul and amend the Medical Council of India Act and make it a nominated body controlled by the Government. It is also possible that the medical education may go out of the purview of the Medical Council and go under another autonomous council for higher education under Ministry of Human Resource Development. In this scenario, the MCI will have nothing to do with the education part of the medical profession and it will only work like an Appellate Body to State Medical Council for any complaints and/or for maintenance of the Indian Medical Register. If this occurs, the State Medical Councils will become more powerful.

Challenging the credibility of the 6-member panel that is controlling the MCI is like challenging the credibility of our own medical profession. Instead, we, as medical professionals should assist these six members so that the stigma associated with functioning of the MCI can be washed out. In the meantime, the present Committee of the MCI can look into several important issues like-

  1. They do not produce half–baked medical doctors such as BRMS. If that happens, the medical profession may continue its agitation against calling them doctors.
  2. The hurriedly passed clause 6.8 in the Medical Council of India Ethics relating to doctor–pharma relationship needs to be redrafted, re–amended or reclarified. In the present format, it is not in the interest of the country.
  3. To see to it that the medical seats, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, are available to the deserving people without a huge cash capitation fees.
  4. To see to it that medical doctors are not suspended from medical practice temporarily on the ground of professional deficiencies as the law only allows the MCI to suspend a doctor’s license to practice only for professional misconduct and not for professional deficiency.
  5. Also to amend acts of various State Medical Councils where it mandates the State Medical Council to register and re-register compulsorily.
  6. To maintain an electronic, centralized medical register so that proper census of medical doctors is available on the web.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee and Chief Editor