The Apex Court on Friday allowed resumption of the NEET-PG medical counselling process for admissions to All India Quota medical seats for the academic year of 2021-2022. The court also upheld the 27% OBC and 10% EWS quota as per the existing criteria.
The decision was taken by the bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna.
“We have upheld the constitutional validity of 27 percent reservation for OBC in NEET PG and UG. For EWS this year the 10 percent will apply for this year and the prospective ruling will be decided on a final EWS hearing to be held on March 3, 2022.”
The Court however said that it would decide on the rationale of Rs 8 lakh income criteria for the EWS category in March-April next year.
The bench said, “We accept the recommendation of the Pandey committee that the criteria which have been stipulated in Office Memorandum (OM) Of 2019 be used for 2021-2022 in order to ensure that the admission process is not dislocated.”
The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) had recently moved to the Supreme Court citing the urgent need to commence the NEET-PG counselling and that the revision of the OBE and EWS reservation criteria at the fag end of the process will lead to further delay in the final selection.
“Every year approximately 45,000 candidates are selected as Post Graduate doctors through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Postgraduate). But the process was halted in 2021 as the NEET-PG was delayed until the month of September due to the coronavirus pandemic.”FORDA
The plea submitted by the members of FORDA said that no junior doctors were inducted this year, the second-third year PG doctors are handling the patients. The doctors are working for more than 80 hours per week and several of them have now tested positive for Covid-19.
The Centre had told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it would not accept a position whereby those falling in the OBC or the EWS category, whether before or after the exercise of revisiting the criterion of Rs 8 lakh annual income, are deprived of something that is legitimately due to them.
The Centre had urged the court to allow the stalled NEET-PG counselling to go on as the demand of the resident doctors is genuine and the country needs new doctors, even when the matter of the validity of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota is under adjudication.
The resident doctors under the banner of the Federation of Resident Doctors’s Association (FORDA) protested in Delhi and other parts of the country over the delay in the NEET-PG counselling. The counselling of the candidates of NEET-PG was postponed due to the pendency of the case and the centre deciding to revisit the criterion for the determination of the EWS quota.
The candidates had opposed the government’s justification of applying the Rs 8 lakh income criterion, saying that no study has been conducted on it.