NEET-PG: SC allows admissions with 27% quota for OBCs, 10% for EWS
ENDING THE stalemate over NEET-PG and NEET-UG admissions to medical colleges, the Supreme Court, in an interim order on Friday, directed that counselling may proceed on the basis of the July 29, 2021 government notification by which 10 per cent seats were reserved for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and 27 per cent for Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna also accepted the recommendation of the Ajay Bhushan Pandey Committee to stick to the prescribed Rs 8 lakh income limit for EWS quota for the current admission cycle.
“There is an urgent need to commence the process of counselling,” said the bench. “We accept the recommendation of the Pandey Committee that the criteria which has been stipulated in OM (office memorandum) 2019 (for EWS) (which prescribed the Rs 8 lakh limit) be used for 2021-2022 in order to ensure that the admission process is not dislocated,” it said.
“Counselling on the basis of NEET-PG 2021 and NEET-UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the resolution as provided by the notice dated July 29, 2021 including the 27% reservation for OBC category and 10% reservation for EWS category in the all-India quota seats,” it said.
“The criteria for determination of the EWS notified by OM 2019 shall be used for identifying the EWS category who appeared for NEET-UG and NEET-PG 2021 examinations,” it said.The bench, however, added that “the validity of the criteria determined by the Pandey Committee for identifying the EWS prospectively for the future (will) be subject to the final results of the petitions.
” The court directed that the matter be listed for further hearing in the third week of March.Counseling for the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) under-graduate and post-graduate programmes had been suspended as the government had told the court that it would not proceed with it during pendency of a batch of petitions challenging the July 29, 2021 notification prescribing the quota for EWS and OBC students. The petitioners had contended that the Rs 8 lakh limit was fixed without carrying out any study.
The court had asked the Centre to explain how the income criteria was fixed.On November 25, 2021, the Centre told the court that it would revisit the criteria and sought four weeks to complete the exercise. The government then appointed a three-member committee, including former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, which, in a report on December 31 last year, recommended that the Rs 8 lakh limit may be retained, but suggested some changes on how to apply the rule.
The committee favoured continuing with the existing system, stating that “by the time the court started examining the said question and the central government decided to revisit the criteria by appointing this committee, the process with respect to some appointments/ admissions have taken place or must have been at an irreversible and advanced stage”. The report said any disturbance at this stage would create complications for the beneficiaries as well as for the authorities.
The government said it had decided to accept the recommendations and conveyed this to the court. The petitioners opposed the recommendations, saying the report was an admission that the government had not conducted any study before fixing the Rs 8 lakh limit for EWS in 2019. Last month, resident doctors in Delhi went on strike to protest the delay in NEET-PG counselling. While they began their protest in November-end, they suspended the agitation for a week on December 9. They resumed the protest on December 17, before finally calling it off on December 31, following assurances from the government that the process would be fast-tracked.