The state medical education department has appointed Dr Abhay Chowdhary as administrator of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC). The move comes after the Council's five-year tenure ended in May. The members, however, have questioned the appointment, asking why the government is not holding an election and getting an administrator.
The MMC, a quasi-judicial body, investigates cases of medical negligence and takes action on doctors if they have violated ethics. The 18-member Council elects nine registered doctors from the state to come onboard. Around 76,000 doctors were registered at the time of election five years ago.
The MMC plays a vital role in cases of medical negligence as the police do not take immediate cognisance of such cases (they have to wait for committee reports by doctors at government hospitals, which can take over a year). And patients and relatives often choose to quit the fight because of the long wait.
Chowdhary, who is the head of the department of microbiology, Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, said, "With the term getting over, the government took the decision of having an administrator in place till the new members are elected. There is not going to be any change in the functioning of the body. The election date and schedule will definitely be announced soon."
In the last five years, more than 700 cases were registered with the MMC, with more than 500 of those attended to and cleared. The MMC cracks down on cases of violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, the unethical practice of doctors advertising themselves, and pathologists allowing diagnostic labs to use their signatures on reports without them being physically present.
"According to the MMC Act, the government can't appoint an administrator like this, it's supposed to announce elections. We have written to the government to start the process as early as possible. I don't know what the government wants to achieve with this appointment. We will approach the court against the move," said Dr Shivkumar Utture, a member.
To maintain a register and ensure registration of medical practitioners
To prescribe a code of ethics for regulating the professional conduct of a practitioner
To reprimand a practitioner or suspend or remove him/her from the register, or take other disciplinary action, as per the Council's opinion