An ordinance seeking to replace the existing body running the Medical Council of India or MCI with a government-appointed committee has been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.
"In a Cabinet meeting, a proposal was made to the President, which he has signed... its purpose is to replace the existing body and allow it to be run by a committee composed of eminent persons," Mr Jaitley said.
The committee or the 'Board of Governors' has now been appointed by the government in "supersession of the MCI".
The Board members include persons of eminence in the medical field: Dr VK Paul, member, NITI Aayog, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr Jagat Ram, Director, PGIMER, Chandigarh, Dr BN Gangadhar, Director, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Dr Nikhil Tandon, Professor, Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism, AIIMS, New Delhi, who were the members of second Oversight Committee.
Dr S Venkatesh, DGHS and Professor Balram Bhargava, Secretary, DHR and Director General ICMR will be the ex-officio members," the government said in a statement.
A bill to replace the MCI with a National Medical Commission (NMC) has already been presented in parliament. A parliamentary standing committee has also made its recommendations, but due to time factor, the bill "has gone into an area of uncertainty," Mr Jaitley said.
Pending parliament's approval to the bill, the government has chosen to go for the ordinance since the term of the existing committee running the MCI ends in November.
In 2016, a committee to oversee the working of MCI was formed by the government at the direction of the Supreme Court, whose term expired in 2017. Another committee was then formed for the same purpose for another year.
"On July 6, 2018, Oversight Commitee (OC) cited instances of non-compliance of their instructions by MCI and said MCI has not only misinterpreted orders of the Supreme Court but has also challenged the authority of the OC. Subsequently all members of OC have resigned," the government said.
"In such circumstances when the Supreme Court-mandated Oversight Committee is unable to function due to non-cooperation of MCI and the NMC Bill is pending in Parliament and its passage is likely to take some time, certain immediate steps are required to be taken," it said in support of its decision to go for the ordinance.