In today’s power-hungry world, the Medical Council of India’s latest attempt to shrink its own jurisdiction area has left most of us baffled. Out of the blue, it has reinterpreted its code of ethics regulations as being applicable only to individual doctors and not doctors’ associations. The executive committee of the new MCI in its meeting on February 18 decided that the term “association of doctors” be deleted from the clause 6.8 of the Code of Medical Ethics Regulation 2002 which clearly states that it pertains to “code of conduct for doctors and professional association of doctors in their relationship with pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry”. This hypocritical stance comes after the MCI itself had argued in an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court that what is prohibited for an individual doctor cannot be done by the doctor along with another bunch of doctors by forming an association.
This bizarre move of the MCI towards subverting its own powers is not only confusing; it also undermines the whole edifice of the apex medical organization in India. For, if the point of the code of ethics is to maintain the sanctity of a doctor’s position, the same logic obviously applies to any association of doctors as a whole.
Yes, an amendment to the existing law is necessary, not to give in to the mindless whining of the MCI, but instead to ensure that such baseless yearnings are not even raised, with the help of clearly stated laws which binds the codes for doctors on their associations too. This is the urgent need of the hour, given the serious allegations of corruption against the MCI. The gravity of the situation cannot be ignored as wishy-washy for such decisions do impact the professional lives of individual doctors who dwell their trust upon such associations. The Ethical standards cannot logically be different for the same doctor as an individual and as a member of an association, for, what is the association, but a collective of its members?