New Delhi: Government will now be empowered to remove the President or other office-bearers of Medical Council of India if found indulging in corrupt practices or serious offences of "moral turpitude", once the law governing the apex body controlling medical colleges is passed.
The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013, seeks to bring about such necessary changes requiring the government to act in case of serious charges against MCI office-bearers.
The changes proposed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare include fixing tenure of the President of the elected-body of MCI to a maximum period of four years for two continuous terms. Earlier, the President could have a five-year tenure and there was no limit on the total number of terms.
The changes have been necessitated as the government has no control over the elected body under the present law governing it.
The MCI has been in the eye of a storm following serious charges of corruption against its former President Ketan Desai, who was arrested by the CBI after being caught taking bribe of Rs two crore from the management of a medical college in Punjab.
Ever since, the government disbanded the MCI and installed a Board of Governors to run the apex medical regulator. The tenure of the current Board of Governors, which is running its second term, will end on May 13, after which an elected body would again have to be installed.
The new Bill also makes mandatory renewal of enrolment of doctors every 10 years in the registers maintained by the body or state councils.
The proposed Bill, which is being whetted by Law Ministry, will go to the Union Cabinet for its approval before it is passed in Parliament.
Once the bill becomes an Act, doctors enrolled with Indian Medical Register or the State Medical Register for 10 years will have to apply for renewal within a year.
A new clause has been inserted in the proposed bill to give the Centre powers to remove president, vice-president or members on grounds of being declared insolvent, physically and mentally incapable and being declared by a court of having an `unsound` mind, sources said.
The other grounds for removal include conviction in an offence which, in the opinion of the central government, involves "moral turpitude".
A person having acquired such financial or other interests which could prejudice his or her function can also be removed from the post, the Bill says.
The president, the vice-president or a member of the MCI can also be removed if the Centre thinks that he or she has abused the position which renders his or her continuance in office "detrimental to overall public interest", the new Bill proposes.
If found guilty of "proved misbehaviour", it can also lead to removal, the bill proposes, but a person cannot be removed from the post without being given "reasonable opportunity" of being heard in the matter.
The Medical Council of India was established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. The Council was later reconstituted under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 that replaced the earlier Act.