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Medical Council of India recommends removal of 25 doctors from medical register for falsely claiming to be faculty members

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7024 (Published 18 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7024
  1. Patralekha Chatterjee
  1. 1New Delhi

The Medical Council of India (MCI), which regulates medical education, has recommended the removal of 25 doctors from the Indian Medical Register and state medical registers for periods ranging from three to five years “for providing misleading information regarding their working as full time faculty.”

Twenty five doctors, registered with medical councils in several states across the country, are under fire from the council’s ethics committee for falsely claiming to be full time faculty members of the Melmaruvathur Adiparasakthi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, a private institution in Tamil Nadu.

The council was following up a report by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Public health advocates have welcomed the council’s latest move. But they say that cracking the problem of fake faculty members is not going to be easy.

They point out that the MCI does not have an unblemished record. A former chairman of the council, Ketan Desai, was charged with bribery in 2010 by the country’s top investigative agency.1

The council has a new head and is trying to forge a new path. But it faces many challenges on the ground.

“Our institution is one of the 40 medical colleges all over India being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation,” Jayaraman Mohan Sundaram, dean of the Melmaruvathur Adiparasakthi Institute, told the BMJ. “We have fully cooperated with the CBI. But the charges have to be proved in the court. Things are still at a preliminary stage. You should also find out what is happening in other states,” he added.

Then, there is the problem of jurisdiction. There are often disputes between national and state institutions about their respective roles. In the case of the recent action by the MCI, the local state council is objecting to the move by the national body.

Kuppannagounder Prakasam, president of the Tamil Nadu Medical Council, said: “Till date, the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council has not received any formal notification from the MCI [Medical Council of India] about disciplinary action against the 25 doctors. The MCI is within its rights to debar absentee doctors from remaining in the faculty in medical colleges but it is the State Medical Council which will decide whether they are to be debarred from practising.

“The MCI does not have jurisdiction to strike off their names from the state medical register. Tamil Nadu state Medical council is not a branch of the Medical Council of India,” he added.

Prakasam said once the MCI notification arrived, the state medical council will carry out its own independent investigation into the allegations and decide whether any action needs to be taken against the doctors. “For this, we will call a general body meeting,” he said.

Sanjay Shrivastava, secretary of MCI, told the BMJ that formal notice to the state medical councils had been dispatched and the concerned state councils should receive it this week.

“I do not want to react to what any specific medical council has to say at this point, but MCI is following the provisions of the Indian Medical Act 1956,” he said.

Prakasam argued that the MCI needed to be reformed. It should have more members from the state medical councils, following a system of proportional representation, and fewer central government nominees.

Public health activists say stringent disincentives need to be put in place to tackle the problem of “fake faculty” members.

Anant Bhan, an independent researcher on bioethics and global health based in Pune, speaking to the BMJ, said: “This includes measures like the removal from the medical register (for short term as [has been] done in the recent case and permanently in case of those who are repeat offenders) as well as punishing the management of the concerned institution (while being cognizant that the students’ interests should be kept in mind). The inspection process also needs to be made more rigorous.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7024

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