OUTLINE OF SUGGESTED ELECTORAL REFORMS TO THE MMC ACT
Dr. Ketan Parikh
Chairman, MMC Reforms Project
As per the MMC Act, Maharashtra Medical Council is the statutory body appointed by an order of the President of India in 1965 to ” unify, consolidate and make better provision in the law regulating the registration of persons practising modern scientific medicine in the state of Maharashtra.” It thus follows that it has to function as the main body regulating, representing and setting standards of medical practice in the state. To effectively fulfil these functions, we feel that the following amendments are very important:
Urgent revision and re-computerisation of the list of medical practitioners registered with the MMC. List should indicate the members who have expired; members who hold post-graduate qualifications, members who have sought transfer to other states, etc. A professional agency may be employed to carry out this exercise. The accurate database thus created would be valuable for other things as well apart from helping in the elections.
Issue Identity cards to each registered doctor. It will help as follows :
Identification of quacks will be easy for authorities concerned such as Police, etc. Identification at election time. Elections to be held by physical voting as in case of Graduates’ constituency elections. Details for the same can be discussed in a meeting.
Physical voting can be conducted in each PHC in the rural area and in the urban areas the same maybe conducted in various centres like public hospitals/ civil hospitals, district hospitals or cottage hospitals etc.
Elections should be held preferably on a Sunday for the entire day.
Ballot boxes may be reached to the various centres on a previous day and then sealed by the local electoral officer in the presence of representatives of all the candidates at a predetermined time. Approximately 150-200 centres can be kept in the whole of the state so that each centre caters to about 250 doctors on an average. The No. of doctors per centre is likely to be more in the urban areas and thus the no. is likely to be still less in rural areas. The sealed ballot boxes should be kept in a locked room and opened only on the day of election and then sealed once again at the close of election and sent to the counting centre.
Voluntary medical bodies like AMC & IMA should be involved in the election machinery.
Every aspiring candidate should deposit an amount of Rs. 2000/- as deposit for election. Only a small amount of Rs. 200/- or so maybe retained if the candidate withdraws before the withdrawal date. A significant election fund can thus be created. Brief bio-data of all the final candidates should be collected simultaneously. Out of the fund so created, the MMC should send a circular containing the brief bio-data of all the contesting candidates to all the voters. This circular can be combined with the notice for the election
Thus all the candidates’ bio-data would be available to the voters. This would minimise partly the big money involved in fighting this election. A common circular sent by the MMC containing the bio-data would reduce the chances of unjust claims/ allegations and also provide a level field for all the candidates. If the voters are well aware of all the candidates before reaching the polling station (in a situation of physical voting), the voter has enough time to make a fair and balanced decision.
MMC REFORMS COMMITTEE
The general body meeting held on the 26th of March 2000 formally constituted Chairmen of the various Projects of the AMC, and I am honoured to have been re-elected to Chair the Project on MMC reforms for a period of 3 years.
Over the past few years we have identified various reforms which are required for an efficient functioning of the Maharashtra Medical Council. Some of these suggestions have already been handed over to the State Health Minister. We are aware that we have in our midst, several luminous consultants who have been members of various medical bodies in different capacities and who can contribute substantially to this endeavour. I request all the members who would wish to contribute to this exercise of MMC reforms to inform Dr. G.M. Bhatia or me at the earliest so that we can incorporate their suggestions in the final draft. We are planning to organise a special seminar on this topic soon and would welcome the participation of all interested members.
Your suggestions should preferably be sent under the following headings:
( Explanation: We have witnessed the inherent fallacies of the postal ballot system as practised by the MMC till date. It was as a result of these fallacies that the fresh elections to the council are being organised. The Association of Medical Consultants and various other associations have demanded a physical ballot to ensure greater transparency of voting. We would welcome various suggestions on the modalities of such a physical ballot to increase the participation of the doctors while ensuring the authenticity of the system.)
( Expl: Every organisation requires funds to function effectively and autonomously. At present the MMC is almost totally dependent on the State Govt. for all its finances. The contribution from members who constitute this august body viz. the medical doctors is almost insignificant.)
REFORMS REGARDING JURISDICTION: (Expl: The MMC has been empowered to discipline only those members of the medical body who are registered with the MMC. The MMC has no powers to take action against quacks who are practising modern medicine illegally.
Thus it has no powers to take disciplinary steps against any other person who practises allopathic medicine but is not registered with the council. Whereas, the Presidential Order of 1965, which constituted the MMC, intended to cover all practitioners of modern medicine, we are aware that several practitioners of modern medicine are in fact registered with other bodies and thus this creates a parallel competitive authority, which is unhealthy for the profession. )
Even The council of Chartered accountants has been given powers to initiate legal steps even amounting to imprisonment towards any quack claiming to be a C.A. We have demanded similar jurisdictional powers to the MMC.
REFORMS IN FUNCTIONING OF THE MMC:
(Expl.: Those members who have been witness to the proceedings of the MMC have felt various procedural constraints in the efficient functioning of the council. We have suggested the constitution of various sub-committees with greater autonomy to increase the efficiency of the enquiry process. This should help to enhance the image of the council in the society and also minimise the hardships to litigants and doctors.)
(Expl.: Presently, out of 22 members, 9 are elected members. 8 members are nominated by the state govt. An electorate of only 40 elects the remaining 5. We have a suggested a reversal of this ratio.) OTHER REFORMS: ( Expl: Any other reforms )
Copies of the existing MMC Act are available from:
Govt. Printing, Stationery & Publications (Publications Branch),
Netaji Subhash Road, near Charni Road Stn. (W),
Dr. Ketan Parikh,
Chairman, MMC Reforms Project.
On 26th March, 2000, Dr. Ketan Parikh, Dr. Lalit Kapoor and Dr. G.M. Bhatia attended a meeting with Dr. Shrikant Sapatnekar, Joint Director of Medical Education & Research and Administrator, MMC, on the subject of MMC reforms. During the meeting which was held in a positive and purposeful manner, some of the issues concerning MMC were discussed. A memorandum was submitted on behalf of the AMC. There was unanimous agreement that the meeting had been very fruitful and to have a second round of further discussions in the near future at a mutually convenient date.