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Take Disciplinary Action Against 'Conversion Therapy', Implement Revised CBME Curriculum For 2022-23: Madras HC

Sebin James
20 Feb 2022 6:03 AM GMT
Take Disciplinary Action Against Conversion Therapy, Implement Revised CBME Curriculum For 2022-23: Madras HC
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Previously, an expert committee was constituted by NMC pursuant to the court order for removing offensive and unscientific terms about the LGBTQIA+ community from the Competency-Based Under Graduate Curriculum (CBME).

Madras High Court has directed the National Medical Commission (NMC) to circulate the expert committee report and recommendations pertaining to Conversion Therapy among the State Medical Councils empowered under the NMC Act, 2019 to take disciplinary action against 'professional misconduct'. The court has instructed that NMC should complete the exercise within four weeks.Justice N....

Madras High Court has directed the National Medical Commission (NMC) to circulate the expert committee report and recommendations pertaining to Conversion Therapy among the State Medical Councils empowered under the NMC Act, 2019 to take disciplinary action against 'professional misconduct'. The court has instructed that NMC should complete the exercise within four weeks.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh gave the above direction in a protection plea filed by a Lesbian couple facing police harassment, and pursuant to a slew of guidelines issued by the High Court in June, 202, to ensure the protection of LGBTQIA+ persons in consensual relationships. Justice N. Anand Venkatesh has been issuing periodical directions in the matter since last year to alleviate the plight of the members belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community.

The court has also directed the National Medical Commission to issue appropriate directions to all Universities for following only those books in which the competencies of the CBME Curriculum have been modified as per the expert committee recommendations. The modified competencies are devoid of unscientific terms exiting in the current curriculum while referring to LGBTQIA+ Community. The court has added that the modified competency in the curriculum must be incorporated and published at least from next year, i.e, the academic year of 2022-2023.

At this juncture, the petitioner counsel Mr Manuraj S mentioned the 'low hanging fruit' of conversion therapy rampant in India and commented that Ethics and Medical Registration Board can deem it as 'professional misconduct' without further ado, the court noted as follows by referring to the expert committee report:

"...In the recommendation, the expert committee made it clear that any attempt/ intervention to change the sexual orientation of a person which is commonly referred as 'conversion therapy' should be construed as 'professional misconduct' by medical professionals under Chapter VII of Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002. The NMC, on the basis of recommendation made by the expert committee, has specifically directed the Ethics and Medical Registration Board to take action wherever such conversion therapies are undertaken by any medical professional. Section 27 of the NMC Act provides that Ethics and Medical Registration Board shall ensure compliance of the code of professional and ethical conduct through the State Medical Council in a case where such State Medical Council has been conferred power to take disciplinary actions in respect of professional or ethical misconduct by medical practitioners under respective State Act"

Noting the above, the court made the direction to NMC for immediately circulating the expert committee recommendations to State Medical Councils so empowered under the Act of 2019. The Tamil Nadu Medical Council has also been suo motu impleaded as the 24th Respondent in the case. The TN State Medical Council has been asked to take special note of the recommendations made and wherever any complaint is received on conversion therapy, appropriate action shall be taken in accordance with rules.

Mr G. Sankaran, Standing Counsel for TN State Medical Council accepted notice on behalf of the council. 

It is pertinent to note that an expert committee was constituted by NMC pursuant to the court order dated 06.12.2021 for considering draft modifications suggested by the petitioners for removing offensive and unscientific terms about the LGBTQIA+ community from the Competency-Based Under Graduate Curriculum (CBME). The court was informed on 23.12.2021 that an expert committee was constituted as per the court directions regarding terminologies existing.

The court observed that the expert committee held a meeting and discussed various issues. Afterwards, the committee submitted a report dated 19.01.2022 to the NMC suggesting modified competencies in the curriculum.

"This court wants to place on record its appreciation for the sincere efforts made by NMC and the expert committee which had discussed each and every existing competency and suggested modified competencies. The very composition of the Committee shows that NMC was seriously attempting to get the suggestions and implement the same by bringing in the required changes that must be made to the curriculum", the court observed.

When the standing counsel for NMC was doubtful about the feasibility of incorporating the modified competencies in the existing curriculum by 2022-2023, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh observed that there are at least five months till August for incorporating the changes for the said academic year after the NEET Entrance exams are over.

Pertinently, Madras High Court has also termed the recent amendment to TN Subordinate Police Officers' Conduct Rules as a 'milestone' and directed all forms of Press/ Media to follow the finalised glossary submitted by Government today while referring to persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community.

The matter has been posted for 8th April, 2022 for filing further reports and for ensuring compliance.

Case Title: Mrs S. Sushma & Ors. v. The Director-General of Police & Ors.

Case No: WP /7284/2021 (Gen.Crim.)

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 68

Click Here To Read/ Download Order

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