PART II – THE COUNCIL

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PART II – THE COUNCIL

Sub-Part A – Establishment and Functions of Council

3.   Establishment of Council

(1)  There is established for the purposes of this Act a Council which shall be known as the Dental Council of Mauritius.

(2)  The Council shall be a body corporate.

4.   Composition of Council

(1)  The Council shall consist of—

          (a)     7 registered dental surgeons, including dental specialists;

          (b)     a representative of the Ministry responsible for the subject of health, who is registered as dental surgeon or dental specialist;

          (c)     3 persons, who are neither dental surgeons nor dental specialists, appointed by the Minister.

(2)  The 7 members referred to in subsection (1) (a) shall, subject to subsection (4), be elected in accordance with the rules set out in the Schedule from among dental surgeons or dental specialists having at least 10 years’ experience.

(3)  Out of the 7 members to be elected, 2 shall be public officers.

(4)  For the purposes of an election of the members of the Council, a dental surgeon or dental specialist shall vote for—

          (a)     not more than 2 dental surgeons or dental specialists who are public officers; and

          (b)     not more than 5 dental surgeons or dental specialists who are not public officers.

(5)  The composition of the Council shall be published in the Gazette.

5.   Tenure of office of members

The members of the Council shall hold office for a period of 3 years and shall—

          (a)     in the case of the members referred to in section 4 (1) (a), be eligible for re-election;

          (b)     in the case of the members referred to in section 4 (1) (c), be eligible for reappointment.

6.   Vacation of office of member

(1)  The Council may require a member to vacate his office if he—

          (a)     commits a gross negligence, misconduct, default or breach of trust in the discharge of his duties, as a member or otherwise, which in the opinion of the Council renders him unfit to be a member;

          (b)     is incapacitated by prolonged physical or mental illness;

          (c)     retires, resigns or is dismissed from the public service after having been elected from among dental surgeons or dental specialists who are public officers;

          (d)     becomes a public officer after having been elected from amongst dental surgeons or dental specialist who are not public officers;

          (e)     is convicted of an offence of such nature as, in the opinion of the Council, renders him unfit to be a member;

          (f)      is absent, without leave of the Council, from 2 consecutive meetings of the Council of which he had notice; or

          (g)     is disqualified under this Act from practising his profession.

(2)  A member may resign by giving notice in writing to the Registrar of the Council.

(3)  Where a member resigns under subsection (2), his seat shall become vacant when the Registrar receives the notice.

(4)  The Council may suspend from office a member of the Council against whom—

          (a)     criminal proceedings are instituted for an offence punishable by imprisonment;

          (b)     disciplinary proceedings are instituted—

                      (i)   by the Council, on any ground involving fraud, dishonesty, gross negligence, infamous conduct or breach of the Code of Practice; or

                     (ii)   by the Public Service Commission, on any ground involving fraud, dishonesty, gross negligence or infamous conduct.

7.   Filling of vacancies on Council

(1)  If a member of the Council dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vacancy thereby caused shall be filled—

          (a)     in the case of a member appointed by the Minister, by a fresh appointment;

          (b)     in the case of a member elected from amongst public officers, by appointing the public officer who obtained the highest number of votes after the elected public officers at the election held immediately before the vacancy arose;

          (c)     in the case of a member who is not a public officer, by appointing the person who, not being a public officer, obtained the highest number of votes after the members elected, from among persons who are not public officers, at the election held immediately before the vacancy arose;

          (d)     by holding a fresh election if no person qualifies for appointment under paragraph (b) or (c).

(2)  Where a member absents himself with the approval of the Council for a continuous period of 6 months or more, the Council may cause him to be replaced by a member appointed in the manner specified in subsection (1) (a), (1) (b) or (1) (c), as the case may be.

(3)  A member appointed under subsection (2) shall remain in office for such period as the Council may determine.

8.   Chairperson of Council

(1)  The Council shall elect a member who is elected under section 4 (2) as its Chairperson.

(2)  The Chairperson shall preside at every meeting of the Council.

(3)  The Chairperson shall, in the event of an equality of votes, have a casting vote.

(4)  When the Chairperson is absent from a meeting, the members present shall elect one of the members elected under section 4 (2) to chair the meeting.

9.   Meetings of Council

(1)  Six members, including the Chairperson, shall constitute a quorum at any meeting.

(2)  The validity of any decision, proceeding or act of the Council or act done on the authority of the Council, shall not be affected by—

          (a)     any vacancy among the members thereof;

          (b)     any defect in the appointment of a member thereof; or

          (c)     the fact that some person who was not entitled to do so took part in the deliberation of the Council.

(3)  The Council shall meet at least 3 times each year.

(4)  A special meeting of the Council—

          (a)     may be convened by the Chairperson at any time;

          (b)     shall be convened by the Chairperson within 7 days of the receipt by him of a request in writing signed by not less than6 members of the Council and specifying the purpose for which the meeting is to be convened.

(5)  The Council may set up a committee of 2 or more members for such purpose as it may determine.

10.   Registrar

(1)  There shall be a Registrar of the Council who shall be a dental surgeon or dental specialist registered under the Dental Council or a registered medical practitioner under the Medical Council Act.

(2)  The Registrar shall be appointed by the Council and shall hold office on such terms and conditions as the Council thinks fit.

(3)  The Registrar shall be responsible to the Council for—

          (a)     the proper administration of the Council;

          (b)     executing all decisions of the Council; and

          (c)     carrying out such duties as may be assigned to him by the Council.

(4)  In the exercise of his functions, the Registrar shall act in accordance with such directions as he may receive from the Council.

(5)  The Registrar shall also be the Secretary to the Council.

(6)  If the Registrar is for any reason unable to carry out his functions, the Council may appoint another person to act as Registrar.

(7)  Service of any process by, or on behalf of, the Council shall be sufficient if made by, or on behalf of, the Registrar.

11.   Appointment of employees

(1)  The Council may, on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, appoint such employees as it considers necessary for the proper discharge of its functions under this Act.

(2)  Every employee of the Council shall be under the administrative control of the Registrar.

12.   Functions of Council

The Council shall—

          (a)     exercise and maintain discipline in the practice of dentistry;

          (b)     advise the Minister on any matter governed by the provisions of this Act or any matter connected therewith or incidental thereto;

          (c)     establish a Code of Practice for the dental profession on standards of professional conduct and dental ethics and monitor compliance with such a code;

          (d)     organise such examination, including clinical or practical examination or assessment in dental surgery, prior to registration as the Council may deem fit;

          (e)     promote education and training of dental surgeons and specialists generally;

          (f)      notwithstanding the Mauritius Qualifications Authority Act and the Tertiary Education Commission Act, be the sole authority empowered to—

                      (i)   pronounce on all matters relating to the recognition and equivalence of any qualification for the practice of dentistry;

                     (ii)   define the criteria which govern the comparability of any qualification for the practice of dentistry;

          (g)     keep a record of all its proceedings and decisions; and

          (h)     publish the annual list.

Sub-Part B – Discipline

13.   Preliminary investigation by Council

(1)  The Council may investigate any complaint of medical negligence, professional misconduct, malpractice or any breach of the Code of Practice against a registered person.

(2)  Where the Council investigates a complaint—

          (a)     it shall notify the person whose conduct, act or omission is under investigation of the nature of the complaint;

          (b)     it may summon and hear the person;

          (c)     it may summon and hear witnesses; and

          (d)     it may call for relevant documents and make such copies thereof as it thinks fit.

(3)  The Council shall keep a proper record of its proceedings under subsection (2).

(4)  Notwithstanding section 9 (1), for the purposes of an investigation under subsection (1), the Council shall consist of not less than 3 members designated by the Council.

(5)  Where, in the course of an investigation, a person refuses to give evidence, or to communicate any document, on the ground of confidentiality, the Registrar may apply to a Judge sitting in Chambers for an order directing that person to disclose the evidence required or communicate any document needed for the purposes of the investigation.

(6)  The Judge shall make an order under subsection (5) if he is satisfied that the information or document the disclosure of which is sought is bona fide required for the purposes of the investigation.

14.   Disciplinary proceedings

(1)  Where after having carried out a preliminary investigation, the Council is satisfied that a registered person has committed—

          (a)     a breach of the Code of Practice;

          (b)     an act of fraud, dishonesty or negligence; or

          (c)     any other act likely to bring the dental profession into disrepute,

the Council may institute disciplinary proceedings against the registered person before the Tribunal.

(2)  Notwithstanding subsection (1), where after an investigation under section 13 the Council considers that—

          (a)     there is prima facie evidence of negligence, incompetence, or grave misconduct on behalf of a registered person; and

          (b)     public interest requires that the registered person should instantly cease to practise dentistry,

the Council may suspend the registered person from the practice of dentistry until a decision is taken under section 17 (4).

15.   Reference to Tribunal

Where—

          (a)     after an investigation under section 13, the Council is of the opinion that disciplinary proceedings should be instituted against a registered person; or

          (b)     pursuant to section 89 (2) of the Constitution, the Public Service Commission refers to the Council a case of alleged medical negligence or professional misconduct against a registered person who is a public officer,

the Council shall refer the matter for hearing to the Tribunal.

16.   Membership of Tribunal

(1)  Notwithstanding section 15 (2) (b) of the Medical Council Act, in relation to a matter referred to the Tribunal under section 15, the Prime Minister shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3), appoint 2 persons who—

          (a)     are registered as dental surgeons or dental specialists; and

          (b)     have not less than 10 years’ experience in the practice of dentistry,

as members of the Tribunal.

(2)  The Prime Minister shall not appoint a member of the Council as a member of the Tribunal.

(3)  The Prime Minister may appoint a person who is not registered under this Act as member of the Tribunal, if the Prime Minister is satisfied that the person—

          (a)     has wide experience in the practice of dentistry;

          (b)     is registered as dental surgeon or dental specialist outside Mauritius.

17.   Disciplinary measures

(1)  The Tribunal, after having enquired into the matter, shall forward its report to the Council as soon as practicable and at any rate not later than one month from the termination of the proceedings.

(2)  The report of the Tribunal shall include—

          (a)     a statement as to whether the charge has been proved and a brief statement of the reasons for those findings;

          (b)     details of any matters which, in the Tribunal’s opinion, aggravate the charge or alleviate the gravity of the charge; and

          (c)     the record of the proceedings of the Tribunal.

(3)  The Tribunal shall not make any recommendation regarding the form of punishment.

(4)  Where the Council receives a report from the Tribunal under subsection (1) stating that the charge has been proved, it may—

          (a)     administer a warning or a severe warning to the registered person;

          (b)     administer a reprimand or a severe reprimand to the registered person;

          (c)     suspend the registered person from the practice of dentistry for a period not exceeding 12 months; or

          (d)     remove the name of the registered person from the register.

(5)  The decision of the Council under subsection (4) shall be communicated to the registered person in question as soon as practicable and at any rate not later than 15 days from the date of such decision.

(6)  A registered person aggrieved by the decision of the Council may appeal to the Supreme Court by way of judicial review.

(7)  Where—

          (a)     a registered person has been suspended under section 14 (2) or 17 (4) (c); or

          (b)     the name of a registered person has been removed from the register under section 17 (4) (d),

such suspension or removal shall not be stayed pending the determination of any related appeal.

(8)  In relation to a registered person in respect of whom the Public Service Commission has delegated to the Council its powers of discipline under section 89 (2) of the Constitution, after receiving the report of the Tribunal, the Council shall, without prejudice to its powers under subsection (4), forward the report referred to in subsection (2) to the Public Service Commission for it to inflict such punishment it may be empowered to inflict.

18.   Disciplinary measures following conviction

Where a registered person has been convicted of a criminal offence involving negligence, professional misconduct, fraud or other dishonesty in the exercise of his calling, the Council may, after giving him an opportunity to show cause in writing why disciplinary measures should not be taken against him, take against him any of the measures specified in section 17 (4).

19.   Summary proceedings

Notwithstanding section 15, the Council may, without reference to the Tribunal and after an investigation carried out under section 13, inflict on a registered person—

          (a)     a warning;

          (b)     a severe warning;

          (c)     a reprimand; or

          (d)     a severe reprimand.