SC brings former CJI RM Lodha to reform medical regulator MCI

  • Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 23:20 IST
The top court appointed a three-member panel headed by former CJI RM Lodha to oversee how the regulator of medical profession and education in India functions (AP file Photo)

After fixing the country’s cricket board, former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha gets the responsibility to reform the Medical Council of India (MCI), which the Supreme Court described on Monday as unprofessional.

The top court appointed a three-member panel headed by Lodha to oversee how the regulator of medical profession and education in India functions.

“All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the oversight committee. The committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions (to the MCI),” ordered a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice AR Dave.

Besides Lodha, the panel has former CAG Vinod Rai and Dr SK Sareen.

“Initially the panel will function for a year, unless suitable mechanism is brought in place earlier which will substitute the said committee,” the court said.

Lodha headed a three-member panel appointed by the top court to look into the 2013 betting scandal in the Indian Premier league (IPL) and the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were kicked out for two seasons on his panel’s recommendations. It also suggested changes in the world’s richest cricket board to improve transparency and weed out corruption.

The court appointed the Lodha panel to oversee the MCI because the regulator is often accused of indulging in corrupt practices. It referred to reports of a government panel and a parliamentary standing committee that indicted the MCI for various malpractices.

“The MCI was repeatedly found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities … medical graduates lacked competence in performing basic healthcare tasks. Instances of unethical practices continued to grow. The MCI was not able to spearhead any serious reforms in medical education,” it said, quoting a parliamentary committee report.

Reacting to the court’s decision, an MCI official the regulator has “no issues” if a committee oversees its work. “We have nothing to hide … It is, however, not good to say that the whole of MCI is corrupt. General mudslinging is bad, let them identify the corrupt persons and take them to task.”

The bench on Monday upheld the Madhya Pradesh government’s 2007 order to conduct a common entrance test for all government and private medical and dental colleges. The unaided private colleges had challenged the order.

The same bench will also hear petitions challenging the validity of the MCI’s common entrance test or NEET on Tuesday.

“Ideally, there should be one common entrance test conducted by the state both for government colleges and for private unaided educational institutions to ensure efficacy, fairness and public confidence,” the court said.

The Madhya Pradesh law was aimed at regulating admission and fee in PG courses offered by private professional educational institutions.

The court said private medical colleges cannot be given the unfettered right to devise their own admission procedure and fee structure because it will “impinge upon the right to equality of students”.

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