MUMBAI: The state’s proposed bill on ‘cut practice’ to curb the menace of referrals against a commission in healthcare has hit a roadblock with the law and judiciary department. The 11-member committee, working on the legislation, has been told to review certain provisions, including the involvement of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) as chief investigating agency.
Medical education minister Girish Mahajan chaired a meeting on Tuesday with heads of medical, homoeopathy, ayurveda, nursing councils and the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to discuss the hindrances and note their suggestions. TOI has learnt that all council heads demanded that responsibility of inquiring a graft complaint should be handled by the local police station concerned and not ACB. They also demanded that non-medical staff, such as grade III and IV staffs and ambulance drivers, should be brought in the ambit of the Act, tentatively titled Prevention of Cut Practice in Health Care Services Act, 2017.
Dr Pravin Shingare, who heads DMER, said the councils have six days to submit written suggestions. “The law and judiciary department has pointed out that ACB duties fall under the purview of Prevention of the Corruption Act, 1988. We may need the Centre’s nod to change the department’s scope of responsibilities. The meeting was called to see the best possible way to remove hurdles in the way of the bill,” he said. He said it will also be reviewed if the proposed one-year jail term and fine of Rs50,000 for any medical service provider found guilty is in agreement with the Indian Penal Code. For repeat offenders, the proposed punishment is two years jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
TOI has learnt that the state is keen to pass the bill without having to send it to the Centre. Shingare said that once the councils send their suggestions, it will be discussed by the 11-member committee before sending it back to the law and judiciary department.
Dr Shivkumar Utture, who represented Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), said, “Our main demand is the investigation should not be by ACB as it are meant to check corruption among government servants. How can private practitioners come under its purview?” he said. Dr Ajit Funde, president of Maharashtra Council of Homoeopathy said the Act should be watertight so that honest doctors are not punished. “Bombay Homoeopathy Practitioners Act, 1959, has provisions to punish doctors indulging in cut-practice. But it mainly plagues allopathy,” he said.