Imagine the Loss to India: SC directs Centre to release NEET MDS Counselling schedule within a week
New Delhi: Unhappy over the delay in holding the counselling for the NEET-MDS admissions, the Apex Court bench comprising Justices D U Chandrachud and M R Shah has granted the Central Government one week's time for filing an affidavit.
"These are qualified BDS students. Why you have not held the counselling since last year? Can you imagine the loss to India? You are not allowing them the degree by not holding counselling," observed the Supreme Court bench while considering the grievances of the petitioner BDS doctors over the delay in NEET-MDS admissions or which exams were held on December 16, 2020.
"You have been dilly-dallying for a year. Tell us within a week as to when are you holding it," the bench was quoted observing by PTI during the hearing conducted through video-conferencing.
This comes after the top court had issued notices to the Centre and others including the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) on July 2 on the plea of nine BDS doctors.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh and lawyer Tanvi Dubey, appearing for the BDS doctors, referred to the plight of the dentists who had cleared the NEET-MDS in the exams held last year and are still waiting for the admissions in PG course.
Now the matter has been listed for hearing on July 19.
The doctors, having Bachelor in Dental Surgery (BDS) degree, had appeared in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-MDS conducted on December 16 last year by the National Board of Examination (NBE) for admission to the Master in Dental Surgery (MDS) course.
The results for admissions in PG courses for BDS candidates were also declared on the scheduled date, which is on December 31, 2020. However, after the declaration of the result, i.e., on 31.12.2020 until today i.e. 23.06.2021, there is no update regarding the counselling.
It is most respectfully submitted that umpteen efforts were made by the Petitioners to get in touch with the Respondents in order to get an idea about the schedule of the counselling. However, there has been no update about the date of the commencement of the counselling, the plea said.
The plea, filed through lawyer Tanvi Dubey, said that these doctors are challenging the unjust and infinite delay caused by the MCC in announcing the counselling schedule for NEET-MDS, 2021. It also sought a direction to the MCC to conduct a separate counselling for the NEET-MDS 2021.
It said the dentists, who are also registered with State Dental Council, have obtained provisional or permanent registration and have also undergone compulsory rotatory internship of a year in an approved or recognised dental college.
Around 30,000 BDS (dental) graduates appeared for the NEET-MDS conducted for admission to over 6,500 seats in the country and till date there has been no update for admissions in PG courses, the plea further stated.
Besides the Centre and MCC, the bench had earlier also issued the notices to the Dental Council of India and the National Board of Examination (NBE).
As per the latest media report by Hindustan Times, during the hearing on Monday, the counsel for the petitioner doctors informed the Court that they had even filed repeated pleas under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get any response regarding the delay but neither the Centre nor the MCC clarified the matter. One of the RTI replies received from the government prior to filing of the petition stated that a "proposal for conducting separate counselling for the allotment of MDS seats is under consideration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and after consultation with the Dental Council of India, the final outcome shall be available on the official website of Medical Counselling Committee."
On the other hand, the counsel for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj submitted before the Court that the government was committed to holding counselling, but the delay was on account of a decision by Madras high court to grant reservation in postgraduate medical and dental admissions.
He further informed the Court that on July 27, 2020, the Madras high court had directed for constituting a high-level committee to implement reservations for other backward classes (OBC) in state-surrendered seats under all-India quota for PG-NEET 2021 and MDS-NEET 2021. In October last year, the Supreme Court confirmed it could be done. Following this, the government filed an application in the top court seeking clarification on implementing the reservations this year.
However, not satisfied with the explanation, the Apex Court bench noted, "The government is just dilly-dallying over this issue. This judgment was in October 2020 and we are now in July 2021. This is a red herring that you are postulating before us. If you wanted to seek clarification, you had to do it immediately. You have to hold counselling immediately."
Posting the matter to be next heard on July 19, the bench observed, "We expect an expeditious decision to be taken and the court be informed on when the government intends to conduct counselling for MDS-NEET, results for which were announced on December 31. We hope the government of India is conscious of the consequences of the long delay in holding the counselling."