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Archaic Madras Medical Registration Act to be revamped, Medical Council elections deferred by 3 months
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Medical Council (TNMC) Elections have got postponed by a period of three months since the Madras High Court has directed the State Government for revamping the "archaic" Madras Medical Registration Act, 1914, which was still being used for conducting polls and to appoint office bearers.Issuing directions to the State for revamping the old act within three months,...
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Medical Council (TNMC) Elections have got postponed by a period of three months since the Madras High Court has directed the State Government for revamping the "archaic" Madras Medical Registration Act, 1914, which was still being used for conducting polls and to appoint office bearers.
Issuing directions to the State for revamping the old act within three months, the HC bench comprising Justice R Subramaniam has directed TNMC for deferring the elections till that time.
The HC bench has issued such directions while considering a plea by Dr. P Balakrishnan, the President of Democratic Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association. Claiming that the TNMC polls were not being conducted in a fair way, the doctor had prayed to the Court for changing the old postal ballot system to online voting system. Alleging that there were a lot of discrepancies in conducting the polls using the postal ballot system, the petitioner doctor had alleged arbitrariness and foul play in the election process.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the Madras High Court had issued notice to the State Government and the National Medical Commission (NMC) in the plea alleging corruption in the conduct of TNMC elections.
Earlier, informing about the upcoming elections, TNMC had stated in a notice, "In accordance with the rule 2 in regard to the Elections to the Tamilnadu Medical Council, Chennai under Clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Madras Medical Registration Act, 1914 (Act IV of 1914) as amended by the Madras Medical Registration (Amendment) Act XVI of 1938, notice is hereby given that an election of Seven members of the Council will have to be held in the month of January / February 2023."
Although the election process commenced and the polls were due in between December 1-18, recently a group of doctors approached the State Health Department and expressed their concern that the upcoming elections would not be conducted in a fair way. Further, the doctors pointed out that while the registrar should be below 60 years of age, the age of the incumbent registrar was more than 60 years.
Also Read: Tamil Nadu Medical Council Elections: Madras HC issues notice to State, NMC on plea demanding online polls
Considering these allegations about the violation of norms in the conduct of TNMC elections 2023, the State Health Department decided to seek an explanation in this regard from the Council.
Meanwhile, a Madurai-based government doctor approached the Madras HC and prayed for a direction for staying the Gazette notification on October 19 for holding the election using ballot papers. Demanding online voting system, the doctor mentioned in the plea, "There are about 1.5 lakh members associated with TNMC. However, only 50 per cent of them are voting. For the past several decades, a few government doctors with political affiliation alone were coming to power and indulging in corruption. In the Directorate of Medical Education, the in-service doctors ranking from the Associate Professors, HOD, and Dean all are influenced and votes forcibly bought."
The plea also referred to the fact that the ballot papers were clearly misused the plea stated, "The high-handed candidates send their messengers and collect envelopes with ballot papers from the electors." The plea also demanded the conduction of online polls under the supervision of a retired High Court judge.
After recording the submissions, the HC bench had earlier issued notice to the State Government and the NMC and had asked them to file responses within two weeks.
As per the latest media report by the New Indian Express, the counsel appearing for TNMC, Senior Counsel P Wilson submitted that the poll process had already commenced and the ballot papers had already been printed.
On the other hand, the counsel for the petitioner, senior counsel ARL Sundaresan, submitted that the election was being conducted with outdated rules. It was also submitted that the electorate had not been updated and even the names of dead electors had not been removed from the polls. Further, the petitioner's counsel alleged illegalities in the appointment of TNMC Registrar who is in charge of conducting the polls.
Live Law adds that during the course of the hearing, the petitioner also submitted before the Court that the Council was still relying on the "archaic" Act for conducting the polls. As per Section 5(1), among the 15 members of the Council, one was to be elected by the Senate of the Madras Medical University, one from the Senate of the Andhra University, one had to be a practicing doctor from Vishakapatnam Medical College.
Taking note of this, the Court observed that the reference to these was because of the Act, which was formulated before the linguistic division of the State. Therefore, opining that there was a need for a complete revamp, the HC bench orally remarked, "How can you conduct elections with such archaic rules? This was for Madras presidency. Change the rules and then conduct elections."
Responding to the Court order, the Advocate General for the State Government submitted that the State was considering the issue and sought three months' time for completing the task.
Passing orders to conduct the polls after three months and after revamping the rules. the bench also made it clear that the present court order would not impact the working of the present office bearers.
The court also mentioned that until the exercise is complete and a new council takes over the State can make "suitable administrative arrangements".
Also Read: There should be women representatives in Tamil Nadu Medical Council: CM told
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.