Govt approves Indian Medical Council Amendment Bill

Last Updated at: Oct 23, 2019

Next to the labour reforms, the new government has planned to re-introduce the Indian Medical Council (Amendment Bill), 2019 during its first Parliament session. This is one of the key bills, which lapsed in the 16th Lok Sabha session.

The Indian Medical Council Bill, 2019 was approved at a Cabinet meeting chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. The bill will ensure transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country. According to media reports, “During this, the Board of Governors shall exercise the powers and functions of the MCI as assigned under the IMC Act, 1956. The number of members in the Board of Governors will be increased from existing 7 to 12”.

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The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill was aimed at replacing the Medical Council of India Act, 1956. This Bill proposed a “bridge course” where practitioners of AYUSH or alternative medicine were allowed to prescribe modern medicines. However, the provision faced opposition by health bodies stating that it would encourage dishonesty. But the Ministry claimed that this provision seeks to address the problem of “acute shortage” of doctors in the country.

The panel gave its recommendation to remove the provision in March 2018 and the official amendments were approved by the Cabinet and moved to Lok Sabha.

The amendment stated, “It has been left to the state governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary healthcare in rural areas.” It also made the punishment for unauthorised practice of medicine as one year along with a fine of Rs 5 lakh.

The amendment also introduced a provision to conduct an exit test called National Exit Test (NEXT). This would be a common examination for all MBBS final year students across the country. By taking up this test, students would not need to separately appear for examinations to obtain a license for practising medicine. NEXT would also be a screening test for all doctors with international qualifications, looking to practice in India.

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A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.