The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, by voice vote.
These Bills seek to supersede the Central Councils formed under the Act by a Board of Governors, which will be constituted by the Central Government.
Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the Bill was necessary to prevent corruption detected in these Councils.
The Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 established Central Councils to regulate the education and practice in Indian medicine system and homoeopathic medicine respectively.
The term of President of the Central Council of Indian Medicine expired in May this year and it was considered inappropriate to hold an election amid the pandemic. Therefore, the in order to complete time-bound granting of permission to colleges for the academic session 2020-21 and as an interim measure, the Government seeks to empower the Board of Governors.
So far as the Central Council of Homoeopathy is concerned, it failed in its responsibilities and did not cooperate with the Central Government to safeguard the standards of education and practice of medicine. It was thus superseded by the Board of Governors for one year in 2018. The period of supersession was extended for another in 2019. The present Bills seek to further extend the period of supersession by one year, with effect from April 24.
Both these Bills are already in force as Ordinances.
It may be noted that the Acts of 1970 and the 1973 are proposed to be replaced by the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019, respectively.
The 2019 Bills, that have been passed by the Parliament, seek to establish National Commissions for both the system of medicines, that shall frame policies for regulating medical institutions and professionals,
However, since these Bills are yet to be signed by the President and because the Government has sought a year's time to make the Commissions fully functional, the present Bills seek to extend the period Board of Governors.
Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Supersession of the Central Council
The Bill provides that the Central Council will stand superseded from April 24, 2020 by a Board of Governors appointed by the Central Government, which will exercise the powers of the Central Council.
Board of Governors
The Board of Governors will consist of up to ten members. The members will include persons of eminence in the field of Indian Medicine, and eminent administrators. They may be either nominated members or ex officio members, appointed by the central government. The central government will select one member to be the Chairperson of the Board.
Powers of the central government
The Board and the Central Council (after its reconstitution) will be bound by directions of the central government on questions related to policy matters (other than technical and administrative matters).
Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council of Homoeopathy and it was required to be reconstituted within one year. This period was amended in 2019 to require the reconstitution of the Central Council in two years. In the interim period, the Central Government constituted a Board of Governors, to exercise the powers of the Central Council.
This Bill seeks to amend the Act to increase the period for the supersession of the Central Council from two years to three years, i.e. until April 2021.
The House discussed both the Bills together. Some members criticize the Government for not re-constituting the Central Council of Homeopathy in 2018, when the first superssion was sought.
Members also criticized the Government for replacing an autonomous body with a Board if Governors that shall be appointed and controlled by the Central Government. They also said that the Government should work to implement the Bills for formation of National Commissions, as soon as possible.
In the meanwhile, they sought state representation and representation from recongnized Universities, in the Board of Governors.
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