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At a time, when the medical profession is facing its darkest hour, it is having to deal with another blow in the form of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill approved by the Union Cabinet in December last year.
The Bill proposes replacing the IMC Act 1956 with a new Act – NMC and replacing the Medical Council of India (MCI), the current statutory regulatory body with a new body, the National Medical Commission (NMC).
Besides being anti-poor and anti-people, the Bill is non-representative as there is no representation of doctors from every state. The bill is undemocratic as only about 10% members of the proposed commission would be elected, the remaining 90% would be nominated by the central govt. Moreover, the Bill gives the Central govt. wide ranging powers to dissolve the commission or even supersede the commission. And, the decision of the Central Govt. would be final and is not open for any require of any type.
The Bill has recommended formation of four Boards to regulate undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, accreditation and assessment of institutions and regulation of the practice of the profession as independent and autonomous bodies. However, these so-called ‘autonomous’ bodies will be under the direct control of the NMC and by proxy, the government, as it is the commission which would have regulatory as well as directional powers and the board members would be nominated by the central Govt.
Consequently, the medical profession will be divested of it democratic manner of functioning and instead made completely answerable to the bureaucracy.
Explaining the underlying rationale to the proposed changes in regulation, the Bill says that “principle of the “regulated” electing the “regulator” is flawed and creates a conflict of interest, therefore MCI should be discarded”. “It creates an ab-initio conflict of interest and therefore this system must be discarded in favour of one based on search and selection. Regulators of highest standards of professional integrity and excellence must be appointed through an independent and a transparent selection process by a broad based Search cum Selection Committee.”
A professional person is not just a medical professional. English dictionary defines a professional as a “person formally certified by a professional body of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/professional.html)
This rationale therefore can also be applied to all non-medical professional organizations and bodies including that of lawyers, chartered accountants etc.
In its judgement in Jacob Mathew vs State of Punjab & Anr on 5 August, 2005, the Supreme Court of India had taken a similar view when it said, “In the law of negligence, professionals such as lawyers, doctors, architects and others are included in the category of persons professing some special skill or skilled persons generally. Any task which is required to be performed with a special skill would generally be admitted or undertaken to be performed only if the person possesses the requisite skill for performing that task.
Any reasonable man entering into a profession which requires a particular level of learning to be called a professional of that branch, impliedly assures the person dealing with him that the skill which he professes to possess shall be exercised and exercised with reasonable degree of care and caution. He does not assure his client of the result.
A lawyer does not tell his client that the client shall win the case in all circumstances. A physician would not assure the patient of full recovery in every case. A surgeon cannot and does not guarantee that the result of surgery would invariably be beneficial, much less to the extent of 100% for the person operated on.
The only assurance which such a professional can give or can be understood to have given by implication is that he is possessed of the requisite skill in that branch of profession which he is practising and while undertaking the performance of the task entrusted to him he would be exercising his skill with reasonable competence.”
The medical profession is on the verge of losing its professional autonomy and be controlled by the govt.
All non medical professional associations such as Bar Association of India, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India should stand by IMA in its fight to retain professional autonomy for the medical fraternity and also against the anti-poor and anti-people provisions of the NMC Bill as they too could be in a similar situation anytime in the future.