New Delhi, April 4: The Centre may be compelled to amend the Medical Council of India Act to incorporate 'non-medical members' in the MCI and the state medical panels following a Supreme Court directive today.
The government has been told to file a 'comprehensive proposal' by April 15. The directive by a division bench of Justices D.M. Dharmadhikari and B.. Srikrishna came on a public interest litigation by People for Better Treatment, a Calcutta-based voluntary organisation.
Additional solicitor-general Amarendra Saran, appearing for the Centre, told the court that a 'new proposal' was being prepared to incorporate several amendments in the MCI Act. The proposed changes in the MCI Act are similar to the amendments sought to plug loopholes in the Bengal Medical Act.
The proposed amendments in the MCI Act include, besides incorporation of non-medical members, registration of outstation doctors with the medical council of the state they are practising in and informing the panel of any change in address, Saran said. Hospitals and doctors should keep a register of patients and the treatment given and computerise the data.
The PIL said under the Code of Ethics Regulations, decisions on complaints against 'delinquent physicians' should be taken in six months. It sought a directive for framing laws for taking action against the president and registrar of panels that fail to comply.
The petitioner's senior counsel, M.. Krishnamani, argued that doctors should be 'compelled legally' to enrol themselves with the medical council of the state they are practising in, 'irrespective of their original enrolment'.
At present, the 'original medical council in a state always informs a complainant of medical negligence that no action could be taken against the doctor as he has already migrated to another state which in turn would say that no action could be taken as he has not been registered in the medical council of the state concerned', pointed out the petition.
Under Section 7.5 of the ethics code, conviction of any doctor for offences involving moral turpitude or criminal acts would constitute professional misconduct. 'But medical councils deliberately remain inactive even when a doctor is convicted for a criminal offence,' the petition said.
It pointed to the affidavit of the West Bengal Medical Council that the 'government has no advisory or supervisory control over the state medical body. In other words, there is nobody to look after the functioning of a state medical council in India'.