Six months after elections were held to the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), the newly elected quasi judicial body is yet to begin functioning, with the state government delaying the nomination of five members required to complete the 18-member council.
In a series of requests, the elected doctors have requested the state medical education department to expedite the process of nominations. “In our last meeting with minister Girish Mahajan on June 13, he said the process was under way. But it has been pending for a long time now,” said elected member Dr Jayesh Lele, who is also president of the Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra.
The state’s quasi judicial body has 85,000 registered allopathic doctors. Apart from issuing licence for practice to doctors, the council also looks into complaints of medical negligence and introduces regulations regarding ethics of medical practice.
The last council was dissolved in August 2016 after it completed its five-year tenure. On December 18, 2016, fresh elections were conducted by the state government across all 14 medical colleges to elect nine doctors, through a ballot paper vote.
According to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, of the 18 members in the MMC, nine are elected, four are ex-officio members from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Directorate of Health Services (DHS), College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) and Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), while five are nominated by the state government. From across the state, 49 doctors had contested elections to the nine seats. While 13 members have been appointed, five posts await the government’s decision.
Currently, in the absence of a fully functional council, a sole state-appointed administrator is handling medical negligence complaints. In 2014, 111 medical complaints were filed and 82 complaints were lodged in 2015. With a huge backlog, the administrator has been only able to hear cases only till 2013. “Only urgent complaints of later years are being taken up. We are clearing cases as fast as possible,” said an official from the MMC.
The oldest case dates back to 1997, as per MMC records. The previous council, a former member said, had split into three ethical committees to clear huge pendency. “We were able to hear 20-25 cases each day. Now, only one person is handling the entire load,” said the member.
According to an under secretary in the medical education department, the file to notify MMC elected members and nominated members was put up by the department and remains under process at the ministry level.
Stating that the list of nominated members was ready, an official from the department said: “The order can come any time soon.”