The Calcutta High Court ruled that the current West Bengal Medical Council would be abolished as of July 31 due to the lack of elections to create a new Council since 1988. The court also mandated that a newly elected Medical Council should be established no later than October 31, 2022.
A Sinlge jusge bench presided by Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya Observed in the case of Dr. Kunal Saha v. West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and another (W.P.A. No. 8140 of 2022) that
“Thus, this court expresses its reservations as to the palpable inaction on the part of the West Medical Council in not holding any elections and/or constituting a new Council since 1988,”
The Court also pointed out that the last elected body completed its five-year term in 1988, and that no elections or ad hoc bodies have been appointed or held in the previous 34 years, or nearly seven times five.
The Court emphasized further that “the current Council members took no steps worthy of exhibiting their bona fides for taking steps to organize elections after the year 1988, however, for obvious reasons, instead choosing to hibernate in the stupor of protracted perpetuation of their power.”
Facts of the Case:
The five-year statutory term of the most recent elected Medical Council of West Bengal expired on July 15, 2018, and that no elections have been held since, according to a petition filed by Dr. Kunal Saha, a doctor in West Bengal.
A Medical Council is to be established in accordance with the Bengal Medical Act of 1914, which calls for the election of the majority of its members from a broad range of the medical, academic, and administrative cadres, with the State Government’s nomination of the remaining members.
According to the Court, such an electoral process upholds the democratic spirit in the creation of such a council “In essence, this procedure ensures the underlying democratic spirit in the council’s constitution by giving the electoral process priority over nomination. From a different angle, such a strategy serves as an essential check and balance to the Medical Council’s extensive authority, which has the potential to have an impact not only on the entire medical community but also on society as a whole given the significant role that medical practitioners, the intelligentsia, academics, scholars, and those affiliated with them at all levels play in society.”
It was further asserted that since the Council is autonomous and not directly under the control of the State, transparency and the democratic principle are of the utmost importance in its formation.
The current West Bengal Medical Council was dissolved by the court with effect from July 31, 2022 on the grounds that it was operating illegally and against the letter and spirit of the law. In the interim, the State government was instructed to appoint an ad hoc council in accordance with the pertinent Bengal Medical Act, 1914 provisions for the specific purpose of holding the Council’s upcoming elections. It was mandated that the said ad hoc body begin operations on August 1, 2022, and thereafter.
The court stated, “The contravention alleged is not merely of Article 14, but also of Article 19 of the Constitution of India and the safety and well-being of the citizens at large, since the illegality affects the functioning of the entire medical community, which in turn concerns the health and well-being of the entire community.” The court went on to say that such a contravention of not holding elections in a timely manner affects the health and well-being of the populace as a whole.
It was mandated that the formalities and other requirements associated with the constitution of the new, duly elected Medical Council be finished at the very latest by October 31, 2022.
The Court stated, “Stipulating the limited duties to be performed by the current Medical Council, “The current council will only handle the West Bengal Medical Council’s basic day-to-day financial and administrative functions until July 31, 2022; however, it will not be allowed to sell, transfer, or otherwise encumber any assets owned by the council or those over which it has legal disposal authority. No registered medical practitioner will have their registration renewed or cancelled by the current council until it is disbanded. The current council is prohibited by law from making significant or policy decisions regarding any matter until it is disbanded.”
Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.