The monsoon parliament that took place amidst the pandemic captured countless instances to talk about. As many as 25 new bills were passed in the Parliament with no Question Hour this time. This has sparked a great deal of backlash from the Opposition. One such bill that was passed is the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2020 was introduced along with the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on September 14, 2020 – the first day of the monsoon parliament in Rajya Sabha. It was passed on September 18, 2020, in Rajya Sabha and consequently on September 21, 2020, in Lok Sabha.
This bill has amended the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 1970 and superseded the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated on April 24, 2020
The Bill inserts new sections 3A, 3B and 3C in the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970, after section 3. It authorizes more power and control on the Central Government for the regulation of membership, practice and education of the Indian Medicine system which includes Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy.
Key Highlights of the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020:
Supersession of the Central Council
The Bill states that the Central Government has the power to supersede the Central Council from the date of promulgation of Ordinance, April 24, 2020. The Central Council will be constituted within a period of one year from the date of its supersession. In the meanwhile, the Central Government will constitute a Board of Governors, which will discharge the powers of the Central Council.
Board of Governors
The Central Government will constitute a Board of Governors which shall consist of 10 persons. The members shall include persons of eminence in the field of Indian Medicine. The administrators may be either nominated or ex officio members appointed by the Central Government.
Two-thirds of the members shall constitute the quorum of its meetings. One member shall be appointed by the Central Government as the Chairperson. The Chairperson and other members of the Board of Governors shall hold office during the pleasure of the Central Government.
Powers of the Central Government
The Board and the Central Council after its reconstitution will be bound by directions of the Central Government on questions related to policy matters, except for technical and administrative matters. The decision of the Central Government whether a question is a matter of policy or not will be final.
The Indian Medicine Central Council Amendment Bill, 2020 renders a great amount of control and power to the Central Government. This over-centralization of the Bill will provide no scope for other autonomous authorities to carry out decisions.
Over-centralization also leads to excessive bureaucracy, red tape and corruption. The government will be involved in every policy-making decision and may reverberate the decision for their own interest. Since the Board of Governors, as well as the Central Council after its constitution, will have members appointed by the Central Government, this may result in favouritism and appropriate members will lose out on opportunities.
Furthermore, consolidation of power into one authority can result in arbitrariness and misuse. To keep the working of the Central Government in scrutiny, power shall be delegated to State Governments and Independent Medical Authorities.
The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to amend the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and replaces the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 24.
This Bill had been amended twice hitherto in 2018 and 2019 for the supersession of the Central Council. However, no council has been established to date. The repeated extension of the time period for the formation of Central Council subjugates the whole purpose of a regulating body.
The Central Council for Indian Medicine may be susceptible to the same downplay.
Ministry of Ayush
The Ministry of Ayush has allowed practitioners of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) appointed at primary health centres (PHCs) to practise allopathy “during emergencies”. This can promote the legitimization of quackery.
The Supreme Court also dismissed the plea pursuing directions to the authorities for exploring possibilities of alternate Unani and Homeopathic medicines.
Thus, taking into account the grave consequences of streamlining power in the hands of one authority, the amendments made to the Indian Medicine Central Council may jeopardize the education and Indian systems of Medicine.
Here’s how Shashi Tharoor contended against the Bill.