August 1, 2019 9:09:27 pm
The much-debated National Medical Commission Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha Thursday amid uproar from Opposition benches, while the Lok Sabha saw the passage of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and POCSO (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Calling the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill as one of the biggest reforms under the Modi government, Health Minister Dr Harshavardhan said it would go down in the history as the Bill that transformed medical education in India. The NMC Bill seeks to replace the Medical Council of India with a 25-member commission headed by the Cabinet Secretary. It also provides for a common medical entrance test across the country, single exit exam (the final MBBS exam, which will work as a licentiate examination), a screening test for foreign medical graduates, and an entrance test for admission in postgraduate programmes.
On a question raised by a member over exit examinations, Harshavardhan said, “Once the NMC Bill is approved, exit examination will be implemented in the next three years.”
The Bill has evoked sharp criticism from doctors across the country who are of the opinion that it would lead to the deterioration of medical education and the degradation of healthcare services in the country. Several doctors took to streets in Delhi Thursday and marched towards the Parliament to protest against the Bill. Several of them were detained by the Delhi Police and were later let off.
Meanwhile, in Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman piloted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks provide greater clarity over distribution of proceeds of auction of loan defaulting companies. The bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The Bill seeks to amend as many as seven sections of the original Bill passed in 2016. Sitharaman said that once the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) begins, it has to be completed in 330 days, including litigation stages and judicial process.
Opposition leaders raised a range of issues, including those of home buyers, individual companies such as Essar Steel, Jet Airways and the recent death of Cafe Coffee Day owner V G Siddhartha, saying industries are suffering due to business failures and lack of ease of doing business.
The Lower House also unanimously passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks death penalty in rarest of rare sexual assault cases on children and greater punishments for other crimes against minors. The Bill also defines child pornography and seeks to make it punishable. The Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha earlier.
Union Minister Smriti Irani said the Bill would provide added legal protection to 43 crore children, irrespective of whether they are a girl or boy.
Some members, including AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, raised concern over witness protection in such cases. Irani assured that under witness protection scheme, all measures such as doing threat assessment of the victim and witness and if required even changing their identity and others, were taken to ensure their safety.
On the trial of juvenile offenders under POCSO Act, Irani said that cases come under juvenile justice act and the death penalty could be given only if he is above 16 years of age and juvenile justice board finds that he has an adult mind.
She also acknowledged that the rate of conviction in sexual offences was very slow and informed that under Nirbhaya Fund, 1,023 fast track courts will be established across the country and 18 state governments have already been taken on board by the government.
She also said that a national data base for such cases have also been started and about 6.2 lakh sexual offence cases were registered in that base.
In an apparent reference to Congress MP Ramya Haridas who raised the Unnao rape issue in the House, Irani said this bill should not be looked from the perspective of politics and should not be politicised for personal benefits.
(With inputs from PTI)
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