Gujarat Medical Council challenges MCI’s power to take punitive action against doctors

Friday, September 13, 2013

by Vidhi Rathee

New Delhi: Challenging the administrative powers of apex regulatory body of doctors in India, the Gujarat Medical Council (GMC) has come in full support of Dr Ketan Desai on being appointed as the head of urology department at B J Medical College, Ahmedabad despite the fact that suspension of his medical license is still in force.

In a categorical letter to the Medical Council of India (MCI) on August 29, Gujarat Medical Council has questioned the powers of MCI to take disciplinary action not only against Dr Desai but also against any doctor who is registered with any state medical council in India.

In October 2010, the MCI temporarily suspend Dr Desai’s license to practice medicine on a complaint filed by Dr Kunal Saha, president, People for Better Treatment (PBT), against Dr Desai. On 22nd April, 2010, Dr Desai, then president of MCI, had been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while taking bribe from a private medical college in Punjab allegedly in exchange of granting it the MCI recognition. While Dr Desai is out on bail, his suspension has not been revoked by the MCI as the matter is still under investigation.

In August 2013, the Gujarat government reinstated Dr Desai as the head of urology department at B J Medical College, Ahmedabad on which the MCI asked for clarifications from the Gujarat Medical Council.

In a staunch reply, the Gujarat Medical Council said, “MCI also does not have the jurisdiction to issue any direction to any State Medical Council for suspending the registration of any medical practitioner enrolled/registered with any State Medical Council”.

The situation has led to some confusion over the division of powers between State Medical Councils and the MCI.

Dr M C Gupta, a medico-legal expert based in New Delhi, while giving legal opinion on the issue told India Medical Times, “By law State Medical Councils are independent of the Medical Council of India. Every state establishes its own medical council independently and any doctor who passes from a state and wants to practice has to get registered with the respective State Medical Council. State Medical Councils in any case do not come under the Medical Council of India.”

“State Medical Councils can take actions against the doctors registered with them and the appeal lies with the MCI. Here State Medical Councils primarily have a bigger role than the MCI. In the present case, the Gujarat Medical Council’s legal stand to allow Dr Desai to practice medicine is correct and justifiable.”

“I understand that in last two-three cases the Supreme Court and High Courts have interpreted that MCI can take actions against erring doctors, but they were only special cases. It does not make an umbrella rule for every case related to cancellation of license by State Medical Councils. In my view Dr Desai can practice medicine if he has been permitted to do so by his respective State Medical Council,” he added.

The point has also been established in the Gujarat Medical Council’s letter which reads, “In any case it is found to be conclusive position with MCI and continuing to be so till date that registration of a registered medical practitioner shall not be suspended by MCI until a registered medical practitioner is “convicted” by competent court of law.”

Giving his opinion on the controversy, Dr Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, a former member of the MCI Board of Governors, told India Medical Times, “Ideally if MCI has debarred Dr Ketan Desai from practicing medicine, Gujarat Medical Council should have respected its decision. It’s true that State Medical Councils are separate from Medical Council of India and legally they can reinstate any state registered doctor and also approach MCI over any indiscipline shown by a doctor. But the Gujarat Government should have consulted MCI and its consent should be taken before making such a decision as MCI is national regulating body.”

GMC Letter (Aug 29, 2013) Dr Ketan Desai case

by Vidhi Rathee

Categories: Medico-Legal, NEWS

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Comment by Dr. Nirav Pandya
2013-09-13 22:03:36

So finally Gujarat Medical council kneels before Dr. Ketan Desai. As anticipated!!

Comment by Dr Subodh Kumar Singh
2013-09-14 07:45:19

I did not know that there is so much of scarcity of professors of urology that B J medical college has appointed is well known corrupt doctor and the state medical council is defending him. Good job Ketan Desai,only likes of you flourish in India!

Comment by Dr Manju
2013-09-14 12:57:29

So Dr Ketan Desai has managed to buy off the members of Gujarat Medical council using his ill gotten money or are they so ignorant of his deeds?

Comment by Vidyasagar M S
2013-09-14 15:47:33

If state medical council is independent of MCI why not they also have their own inspections, recognition of colleges and their own curriculum etc. to regulate medical colleges and courses. What is then the purpose of MCI?

Comment by Dr. Kunal Saha, USA
2013-09-14 18:17:12

The opinion expressed in the article in support of the disgraced, ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai by the medico-legal expert, Dr. M. C. Gupta, is absolutely wrong for more reasons than one. First, MCI has full legal authority (under Section 8.7 and 8.8 of “Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002″) to take action against the decision of a state medical council (SMC). Next, since their enactment in 2004, several doctors across India against whom MCI took disciplinary action under Section 8.7 and 8.8 approached the high court challenging the legality of these two provisions of law and in every single case, high courts in different states (see the list in the related “guest article” written by me today) have rejected the notion that MCI has no authority over the SMCs.

Finally, Dr. Gupta’s own statement clearly underscores that he was wrong in his legal explanation. Dr. Gupta has stated, ““State Medical Councils can take actions against the doctors registered with them and the appeal lies with the MCI. Here State Medical Councils primarily have a bigger role than the MCI”.

So, on one hand, Dr. Gupta has admitted that appeals against any action taken by SMCs lie with the MCI, i.e. MCI has appellate authority over the SMCs. But on the other hand, in the very next sentence, he has claimed that SMCs have “a bigger role than the MCI”. These two assertions made by Dr. Gupta are contradictory and self-defeating. How a body (MCI) with power to decide appeals against action taken by a SMC can have a “smaller” role to play than the SMC itself? Also, Dr. Gupta’s other assertion is also erroneous that the cases in which Supreme Court and High Courts have said that MCI can take actions against doctors are only “special cases”. There was absolutely nothing “special” about these cases as I’ve been directly and indirectly involved with these these cases including my own case from a personal tragedy (wrongful death of my wife).

The MCI Ethics Committee has already decided and continue to decide countless appeals against the decisions of SMCs (under Sections 8.7 and 8.8) since 2004 in which they have overturned the findings of the SMCs numerous times, sometime in favor of the doctor who was held guilty by SMC and sometime the other way around. The MCI website shows a list of these hundreds of cases which continues to grow every month. Should all these cases be thrown out now that GMC has claimed that MCI has no power over SMC and some medico-legal expert seemingly agree with them?

Comment by Dr.Rajaram.P.C.
2013-09-15 00:00:41

I strongly believe and am fully convinced that I belong to a noble profession just like millions of other dedicated doctors feeling proud of their record in rendering precious service to patients and contribution to enhance the dignity of medical profession.Any one who had been booked for indulging in corrupt and ignoble activities defaming our noble profession has to be dealt with in accordance with law.In the process of healing,a malignant tumour has to be removed to save the patient (image of the profession).This should be applicable to all including the former chief of MCI.Anybody attempting to protect the offender will be misconstrued as indulging in politics .

Comment by dr a s sanjay
2013-09-26 23:51:24

Reinstatement of ex MCI czar shows shows hw weak MCI is.
It has already proved in recent times to be a figurehead org.
One can see unhealthy comepetition growing menacingly among pharma
companied;withMCI simply watching.Hope it wakesup
and starts cleaning the setup.Otherwise like politics healthcare
will go downthe drain.

Comment by purshotam sadher
2013-10-26 21:51:03

Office of MCI should be close.If the state medical protect corrupt Dr than what the use MCI. This is very bad step of state council.

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