SC sets up three members panel to oversee MCI functioning

New Delhi: Taking a dim view of the functioning of the Medical Council of India, the Supreme Court on Monday set-up a three member committee to oversee its functioning including statutory functions and vet all its policy decisions.

"The committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee. The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions," said a constitution bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice R.K.Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi.

The three member committee comprising former chief justice of India R. M. Lodha, former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences director Shiv Sarin "will function till the central government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report".

Directing the central government to "consider and take further appropriate action in the matter at the earliest", the bench said: "Initially the Committee will function for a period of one year, unless suitable mechanism is brought in place earlier."

The court decided to set-up the committee to oversee the functioning of the MCI including its statutory functions as it sustained the May 15, 2009, Madhya Pradesh High Court decision upholding a 2007 state law providing for common entrance test and fixation of fee in colleges imparting professional courses.

Pointing to the "urgent need to review the regulatory mechanism for other service oriented professions also", the bench said: "We do hope this issue will receive attention of concerned authorities, including the Law Commission, in due course."

Constituting the three member committee, the bench noted the sorry state of affairs pointed out by the group of experts headed by Ranjit Roy Chaudhary in their report submitted on September 25, 2014.

The court also noted that even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare which examined the existing "architecture of the regulatory oversight of the medical profession" had observed that the "MCI was repeatedly found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities. Qualify of medical education was at its lowest ebb, the right type of health professionals were not able to meet the basic health need of the country".

The report of the parliamentary committee submitted to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on March 8, the court noted, had said that the "MCI was not able to spearhead any serious reforms in medical education. The MCI neither represented the professional excellence nor its ethos. Nominees of central government and state governments were also from corporate private hospitals which are highly commercialised.."

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