The government on Thursday appeared set to dissolve the controversy ridden Medical Council of India and replace it with an independent panel of chiefs of seven top medical institutes to run it for the next six months.
The Union cabinet is understood to have given its "in-principle" approval for bringing an ordinance to amend the five-decade old law governing the MCI, the regulator for medical education in the country.
The ordinance seeks to make a one-time exception to allow the government to intervene in the MCI functioning, which was so far prohibited according to the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, HT has learnt.
The MCI was thrown into turmoil with the arrest of its chief, Dr Ketan Desai on corruption charges by the CBI on April 22. Desai finally quit his post on Thursday.
The move to bring an ordinance followed a strong opposition attack on the Health ministry during the recently concluded budget session of Parliament.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had virtually conceded in the Rajya Sabha on May 5 that the government had no powers under the existing rules to remove Desai. Azad said he had referred the matter to the law Ministry, which has now given its opinion.
The government is authorised to bring an ordinance when Parliament is not in session. It is a temporary law, which has to be ratified by the parliament within six months.
In place of the dissolved council, directors of seven top medical institutes including AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER Pudducherry would be asked to run it for the next six months.
"The matter would be taken to the parliament during the monsoon session.
The parliament will decide the permanent future of the MCI. The government is only dealing with the emergency situation," said a senior law ministry official.
The government proposes to make a new law for a single regulator for the medical profession.
"A single over-arching body for the MCI, Dental Council, Ayurveda, nursing and paramedical staff is in the offing," a top government official said.
"Consultations are on with the state governments on the proposed National Council for Human Resources on Health Bill, which provides for an over-arching body," he said.
"Once this body comes into being, it will take care of everything and existing bodies will be subsumed in it," the official said.