Asked to vacate MCI premises, 92 former staff alleges contempt of court
New Delhi: With the National Medical Commission (NMC) just replacing the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the health ministry's subsequent order directing 92 employees to vacate the MCI building, the staff have now accused the authorities of committing contempt of court.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported about the said NMC order in view of which 92 employees of the erstwhile MCI have now been shown the exit door. The move came in accordance to the provisions of the NMC Act, that spell out that with the employees of the MCI will not be retained in the newly established medical regulator.
It was earlier reported that the existing MCI employees were indeed in shock with the provisions of the Act as it stated that employees of the Medical Council Of India shall be immediately terminated with a 3 months severance package, as soon as the National Medical Commission comes into effect. Section 60 deals with the issue of Employees and their termination and clearly stated that The Chairman and other Members and employees of the Medical Council of India shall vacate their respective offices and be entitled to the compensation.The section adds that they would be entitled to such compensation for the premature termination of his employment which shall not be less than three months' pay and allowances, as may be prescribed.
Many employees had raised objection on their termination demanding respite, but the government was firm in its decision stating that "In view of the past legacy of MCI, it will not be advisable to take these employees into the NMC secretariat."
However, with the NMC coming into force, the Union Health Ministry had asked MCI employees - peons, sweepers to secretaries - to vacate MCI building with immediate effect. This includes over 92 permanent employees of the erstwhile MCI.
"Since the National Medical Commission has come into existence and their smooth functioning is essential, you are advised to vacate the offices with immediate effect," a circular dated October 5 issued by Amit Biswas, Under Secretary, Health Ministry, said. It was alleged that all the employees of MCI were involved in corruption hence they would not be accommodated in the NMC. The NMC act made a provision for their termination.
The Ministry's October 5 circular stated that as per the high court order their services will continue as they have been asked only to vacate the building. However, the employees have protested the circular calling it a violation of the court's status quo order. They are contemplating to approach the high court.
"The 92 employees would continue to serve the organisation as per the Delhi High Court order from last November," the notice read.
"The health ministry's order amounts to contempt of court. It has once again put our future in jeopardy," a senior employee told The WEEK.
Giving details about the scenario of take-over, an employee informed the Week that on September 25, their computers were made dysfunctional and a couple of days later, the biometric attendance system was also removed.
The issue of the fate of the 90-plus employees of the erstwhile MCI has been ongoing ever since the NMC Act was introduced in the Parliament in 2017. The Act contained a "retrenchment clause" for the entire staff of the MCI. Since then, the affected employees have been opposing the move to terminate them on several grounds including "principles of natural justice", their right to employment and the fact that they are innocent.
"We have done no wrong, why are we being punished? The government can investigate us, and if any wrong doing is proved, we are ready to face action. But in absence of that, this move is inhuman, especially given the fact that in the current pandemic situation, most of us who have served here for decades will find it very hard to find employment," the employee said.
The Week adds that the employees have now written to the Union health ministry that the notice to vacate the building amounts to "wilful disobedience" of the court's order.
Meanwhile, the health ministry officials have affirmed while speaking to the WEEK that that retaining the erstwhile MCI employees was important. "Removing them enmasse would mean that the organisation has no institutional memory. This will certainly hamper their functioning," the official said.
The new body would also face the challenge of hiring new staff, who would take time to understand and acquaint themselves with the processes and operational procedures.
"Building consensus will be difficult for the different boards in the current structure. Besides, students are already concerned about the fee structure as for 50 per cent of the seats, the fee would be fixed by the NMC. Holding the exit exam would be another major challenge for the new body," the official added.