Don't Misuse Court's Role: SC junks plea seeking further reduction in NEET PG cut-off percentile
New Delhi: Taking note of the fact that the Government has already reduced the cut-off percentile for NEET-PG by 15%, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking further reduction.
Referring to the March 12 notification issued by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), where the Government had reduced the cut-off, top court bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B. R. Gavai observed, "It is the discretion of the Government of India. They have reduced it by 15%. You say reduce it further. Someone will come and say reduce it even further. The role of the Court should not be misused by filing such writ petitions."
Doctors had been demanding a reduction in the cut-off marks for appearing in the mop-up round of counselling as they had pointed out that every year a large number of seats remain vacant due to the high qualifying marks.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that responding to the representations from doctors, NBE reduced the cut-off by 15 percentile after the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) directed NBE to reduce the cut-off.
Following this, the cut-off percentile for the general category was changed to 35th percentile, for PH(Genl) it was made 30th percentile and for the reserved category (SC/ST/OBC) the cut-off had been reduced to 25th percentile.
However, as per the latest media report by Live Law, the plea before Supreme Court demanded a further reduction and the counsel for the petitioner referred to two facts- how the doctors had to attend COVID duties resulting in the disruption in academic schedule, and there were still more than 6000 vacancies.
The counsel submitted, "I just want to point out two factors-
1. Being a COVID year we were asked to attend to COVID duty; for 4 months the exam was postponed; all doctors were requisitioned and asked to perform COVID duties. There was some disruption in the academic rigour.
2. On the date of filing of this petition there were over 6000 vacancies."
At this outset, the bench pointed out that the matter concerning the vacant seats should be taken care of with the reduction of cut-off already permitted by the Union Government on March 12.
Referring to notification dated 14.07.2020 by which the cut-off percentile for the General category was reduced from 50th percentile to 30th percentile, the petitioners contended that the fixation of reduced cut off marks across categories should have been more in order to accommodate the mitigating and extenuating circumstances that were unique for the candidates who had appeared for the NEET PG 2021 examination.
Further referring to the March 12 notification, the petitioners pointed out that the reasons for deviating from the reduction formula adopted in 2020 was not disclosed in it. Thus, the petitioners argued that the Union Government's call for lowering the cut-off minimum marks as per the proviso to Regulation 9(3) of PGME Regulations must have a rational nexus with the total number of seats which might not get filled.
However, opining that the petitioners cannot seek a reduction in the minimum qualifying percentile as a matter of right, the bench sought to dismiss the petition.
At this outset, the counsel for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Mr. Nikhil Nayyar noted, "We have challenged the fixation of percentile."
Responding to this, Justice Rao noted, "There should be a limit to filing such Writ Petitions. The Govt. has reduced 15% , now the Supreme Court will reduce it by 50%? What s our role in all this? We keep running the educational institutions, we keep running the regulatory bodies. What is this?"
Replying to this, the counsel for the petitioner submitted, "I am not asking your lordships to fix the percentile. I can only point out whether the discretion has been reasonably exercised or not."
The court then asked, "Do you have a right for reduction?"
Responding in negative, the counsel for the petitioners submitted, "No, milords. Kindly see the proviso."
The bench then referred to the Regulation 9(3) of the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulation of 2000, which granted discretionary power to the Union Government to lower the minimum marks for admission to PG medical courses, in consultation with the National Medical Commission.
At this outset, the bench dismissed the plea and noted, "It is the discretion of the Government of India. They have reduced it by 15%. You say reduce it further. Someone will come and say reduce it even further. The role of the Court should not be misused by filing such writ petitions."
It should be noted in this context that a similar plea seeking further reduction in the cut-off percentile is pending before the Delhi High Court. Taking note of the submissions made by the petitioners, the HC division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi questioned the percentile system for preparing the merit list.
The bench had also opined that there was a chance that meritorious candidates might remain left out merely because they did not fit in the percentile cut-off while on the other hand, the seats in the medical colleges remained vacant.
M.A in English
Barsha completed her Master's in English from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.