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Bills on central councils for homeopathy, Indian medicines get Rajya Sabha nod

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha approved two bills on Friday, replacing ordinances related to the Central Council of Homeopathy and the Indian Medicine Central Council.

The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to further extend the time to form the Central Council of Homeopathy by a year, after exhausting two years for the purpose.

The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks a year's time to reconstitute the central council and provides for a board of directors to exercise its powers in the interim period.

Replying to a debate on the two bills, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government is committed to providing affordable and easy healthcare facilities to every citizen.

He also defended the Centre's decision to bring ordinances, saying there was nothing "abnormal" and that governments have been taking this route, depending on the necessity. Both the bills were introduced in the Upper House of Parliament on September 14, the first day of the ongoing Monsoon Session, which is being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Homeopathy Central Council Act, 1973, and replaces the Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 24.

The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council of Homoeopathy.

The council was required to be reconstituted within a year from the date of its supersession. This provision was amended in 2019 for the reconstitution of the council in two years.

In the interim period, the Centre constituted a board of governors to exercise the powers of the council.

The bill seeks to amend the Act to increase the period for the supersession of the council from two to three years.

The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 amends the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. The Act provides for the constitution of a central council, which regulates the education and practice of the Indian medicine system, including ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy. The bill replaces an ordinance promulgated on April 24.

The proposed legislation provides that the central council will stand superseded from April 24 (the date of promulgation of the ordinance).

The council will be reconstituted within a year from the date of its supersession.

In the interim period, the Centre will constitute a board of governors, which will exercise the powers of the council.

Health Minister Vardhan said: "I want to reiterate that the intention of the government in bringing these two bills is very transparent and clear. There is no intention to impose anything". The minister said the government is undertaking the "most useful reforms" in medical education and Indian Medicine Systems.

Vardhan said the government was committed to ensure high quality health facilities as well as easy availability of all systems of medicine.

He said the Indian Medicine Systems are traditional practices that have scientific basis and added that the government was committed to promote them.

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