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SC petition challenges MCI oversight by Lodha committee

The Supreme Court will hear on 29 August a plea contending that the top court appointed oversight committee headed by former Chief Justice RM Lodha was going beyond its mandate of monitoring the work of Medical Council of India (MCI).

Petitioner Anand Rai, who is credited for exposing the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh, has contended that Justice Lodha Committee which also comprises former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences Director Shiv Sarin has reversed the MCI and Health Ministry’s rejection of a large number of applications by medical colleges without undertaking any fresh inspections.

His PIL says that Justice Lodha Committee “not only (acted) in contravention of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution” but took decisions not fulfil the test of reasonableness and being in larger public interest. It flagged Justice Lodha Committee’s grant of recognition and increasing the intake of students including extending time schedule of admissions.

The bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that the matter would be heard by the bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave.

The constitution bench comprising Justice Dave, Justice AK Sikri, Justice RK Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R Banumathi had set up Justice Lodha Committee, which, it had said, “will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report”.

While setting up Justice Lodha Committee to monitor the working of MCI including discharge of its statutory functions, the bench had relied on a Parliamentary Standing Committee which had observed that the “MCI was repeatedly found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities. Qualify of medical education was at its lowest ebb, the right type of health professionals were not able to meet the basic health need of the country”.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare which examined the existing “architecture of the regulatory oversight of the medical profession” had said in its report, that “MCI was not able to spearhead any serious reforms in medical education. The MCI neither represented the professional excellence nor its ethos. Nominees of central government and state governments were also from corporate private hospitals which are highly commercialised and conduct unethical practices in order to extract money from hapless patients”.

The report was submitted to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 8 March.

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