The National Medical Commission Bill, which had been given the final clearance by the Union Cabinet on July 19, was passed by Rajya Sabha through a voice vote on Thursday. The Bill was passed even as the medical community continued their protests against it.
The NMC Bill will take over the functions of the Medical Council of India (MCI) with regards to medical education. In addition, the Bill also proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to postgraduate medical courses and for obtaining a licence to practice medicine.
Besides this, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), common counselling and NEXT would be applicable to institutes of national importance like AIIMS in order to achieve a common standard in medical education in the country.
The Bill provides for supersession of Medical Council of India (MCI) for a period of two years with effect from September 26, 2018. It had lapsed after it was introduced in 16th Lok Sabha. The Cabinet had approved the Bill on June 12 to replace the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2019 through an Act of Parliament.
Demonstrations and hunger strikes were held in several locations across the country against the Bill which the medical community has termed â€˜pro-richâ€™ and â€˜against the medical profession. The IMA had on July 31 called for a nationwide strike, asked medical students to boycott classes and doctors to shut OPD services in hospitals. Doctors have raised concern over Section 32 of the NMC Bill that provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh non-medical persons or Community Health Providers to practise modern medicine.
Arguing on behalf of the government for its passage, Harsh Vardhan said the Bill seeks to put in place a new structure to tackle challenges in the medical education sector.
"This Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC). Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils. The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the Centre. A common final-year MBBS exam called NEXT will be introduced," the minister said.
It aims to bring transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country, the government has said. It was unanimously passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid protests by the opposition who called it an act of "diluting power" from the doctors' fraternity to the government. The Bill got approval of the Lower House after 260 members voted in favour and 48 against.
(With IANS inputs)