- SC allowed resumption of medical counselling for NEET-PG admissions for the year 2021-22
- Bench said "we are in a situation, where in the national interest the counselling has to begin"
The Supreme Court on Friday, in an interim order, allowed resumption of medical counselling for NEET-PG admissions for the year 2021-22, and upheld the validity of 27 per cent OBC and 10 per cent EWS quotas.
Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) has welcomed the Supreme Court's verdict on EWS and OBC quota. Dr Manish, FORDA president said "Supreme Court's order is a relief for us. When the country is suffering from the third wave of Covid, such a decision is extremely valuable for all the doctors. We hope the NEET-PG counselling schedule to be released soon."
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said that detailed reasons for the interim order will follow and the counselling for the NEET-PG for the academic year 2021-22 will proceed as per the criteria already notified. The bench said that validity of criteria of Rs 8 lakh for determination of EWS for future years will be subject to final adjudication of the batch of petitions and listed the pleas for final hearing on March 5.
On Thursday, after conducting a day-long hearing on petitions challenging the validity of EWS quota in postgraduate medical admissions and the Centre's argument favouring the quota, the court said there is a situation, where in national interest, the counselling has to begin, which was also a key demand of protesting resident doctors. A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna said: "We are in a situation, where in the national interest the counselling has to begin."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that all candidates eligible for the EWS quota, as per existing criteria, have got their certificates for registration and added that seats in all the government colleges have been increased to accommodate the EWS quota. "So, this will not harm the chances of general category students...", he added.
Mehta also clarified that super-speciality courses have no reservation and none of the judgments remotely suggests that there cannot be reservation in PG courses. On the aspect of the EWS quota, he said there was a study, application of mind, and wide consultation when the government decided to fix the Rs 8 lakh income limit. The Centre has accepted the report of a three-member panel constituted to revisit the EWS criteria. The panel, in its report, said: "Firstly, the EWS's criteria relates to the financial year prior to the year of application whereas the income criterion for the creamy layer in OBC category is applicable to gross annual income for three consecutive years."
The panel added: "Secondly, in case of deciding the OBC creamy layer, income from salaries, agriculture, and traditional artisanal professions are excluded from the consideration whereas the Rs 8 lakh criteria for EWS includes that from all sources, including farming. So, despite being the same cut-off number, their composition is different and hence, the two cannot be equated."
After hearing the parties in the matter, the top court reserved its judgment on the petitions challenging the 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 10 per cent reservation for EWS in all-India quota seats for postgraduate medical courses. As many as 15 per cent seats in MBBS and 50 per cent seats in MS and MD courses are filled through all-India Quota from the candidates selected through the NEET.