NMC directs State Medical Councils to take action against Quacks

Under the facade of attractive advertisements and false qualification claims, such miscreants dupe vulnerable patients, not only in their own operated joints but in renowned hospitals as well.

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NMC National Medical Commission
NMC

NMC directs State Medical Councils to take action against Quacks

New Delhi: Posing a threat to the sanctity of the medical profession and at the same time diabolically playing with the lives of the susceptible public, quackery is a growing menace in the country which keeps on mushrooming every year.

Under the facade of attractive advertisements and false qualification claims, such miscreants dupe vulnerable patients, not only in their own operated joints but in renowned hospitals as well.

Hence, taking a big step towards eliminating quackery in the country, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has now directed all State Medical Councils to appoint an officer who can file complaints before a court or any other authority concerned to take action against quacks.

A circular issued by the NMC on July 14 stated that as per the provisions of the NMC Act, 2019, the act of quackery and medical practice by a non-registered or enrolled person is a punishable offense under section 34, reports PTI.

”The court will take cognizance of an offense punishable under section 54 of the NMC Act upon a complaint in writing made on this behalf by an officer authorized by the Commission or the Ethics and Medical Registration Board or a State Medical Council,” the circular issued by Dr. Yogender Malik, member of the NMC’s Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB), stated.

According to Section 34 of the NMC Act, one who is not enrolled in the State Register or the National Register is not entitled to sign or authenticate a medical or fitness certificate or any other certificate which is required by any law to be signed by a duly qualified medical practitioner or is entitled to give evidence at any inquest or in any court of law as an expert under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 on any matter relating to medicine.

”Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both,” the Act states.


Also read: Govt’s guidelines: National Medical Commission Act 2019


Section 54 reads that no court shall take cognizance of an offense punishable under this Act except upon a complaint in writing made on this behalf by an officer authorized by the Commission or the Ethics and Medical Registration Board or a State Medical Council, as the case may be.

”In order to enforce the aforementioned provisions prescribed under Section 34 read with Section 54 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, all Medical Councils shall appoint an officer to file complaints before the Court or any other concerned authority to take appropriate action against quacks as per law.

State Medical Councils shall furnish an annual report to the Commission in this regard, it stated.

The punishment for quackery under the NMC Act has been enhanced by up to one-year imprisonment and up to a Rs 5 lakh fine compared to the earlier Section 15(3) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, which mentioned a punishment of imprisonment which may extend to one year or a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.

Section 34 in the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 reads:

(1) No person other than a person who is enrolled in the State Register or the National Register, as the case may be, shall–

(a) be allowed to practice medicine as a qualified medical practitioner;

(b) hold office as a physician or surgeon or any other office, by whatever name called, which is meant to be held by a physician or surgeon;

(c) be entitled to sign or authenticate a medical or fitness certificate or any other certificate required by any law to be signed or authenticated by a duly qualified medical practitioner;

(d) be entitled to give evidence at any inquest or in any court of law as an expert under section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872) on any matter relating to medicine:

Provided that the Commission shall submit a list of such medical professionals to the Central Government in such manner as may be prescribed.

Provided further that a foreign citizen who is enrolled in his country as a medical practitioner in accordance with the law regulating the registration of medical practitioners in that country may be permitted temporary registration in India for such period and in such manner as may be specified by the regulations.

(2) Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.

Apart from the penal provisions under the Medical Council Act, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) punishes quacks under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 420 (cheating) and Section 416 (impersonation).


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