No NEET PG Counselling till EWS verdict
New Delhi: Aspirants of NEET PG will have to wait as the centre has informed Supreme Court that no counselling will be held till there is a decision on the EWS matter.
The assurance has been given by the Central Government to the top court on Monday as the matter of OBC and EWS quota in the PG All India Quota seats is still being considered by the Supreme Court.
After recording the assurance given by the Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, the counsel for the centre, the top court bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna observed that students would be in serious problem if the counselling process went ahead as scheduled.
The assurance by Nataraj was given after senior advocate Arvind Dattar, appearing for some NEET candidates, mentioned that as per the schedule announced by the Director-General of Health Services, the counselling process for the NEET-PG is to commence from October 25, adds PTI.
He said that by the time the court decided the pending batch of petitions, challenging the July 29 notification, introducing the reservation from academic year, the entire process of admission would be over and serious prejudice would be caused to the students.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Centre and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) July 29 notice providing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10 per cent for EWS category in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) admissions for medical courses.
On September 17, the top court agreed to hear a batch of pleas of students against the July 29 notice providing 27 per cent reservation for OBC and 10 per cent for EWS category in 15 per cent UG and 50 per cent PG All India Quota seats (MBBS/BDS and MD/MS/MDS) with effect from the current academic session 2021-22.
On October 7, the top court had posed searching questions to the Centre on its decision to fix a limit of rupees eight lakh annual income for determining the EWS category for reservation in NEET admissions.
The Centre had then said fixing a limit of Rs eight lakh annual income for the EWS category is a matter of policy based on the National Cost of Living Index.
During the last hearing, the top court had once again asked searching questions from Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for Centre, and asked whether any exercise was undertaken before fixing a limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income for determining the EWS category.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that asking if the Central Government would like to revisit its decision regarding the limit of annual income bar of Rs 8 lakhs fixed to determine the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category for reservation in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, the Supreme Court had noted that the limit was same for determining the creamy layer in the OBC category as well.
Clarifying that there should be a basis for determining the limit, the top Court had observed, "You cannot just pick Rs 8 lakh out of the thin air and fix it as a criteria. There has to be some basis, some study. Tell us whether any demographic study or data was taken into account in fixing the limit. How do you arrive at this exact figure? Can the Supreme Court strike down the criteria, if no study was undertaken?"
The Centre assured the Supreme Court on Monday that the counselling process of NEET-PG will not commence till the top court decides the challenge to 27 per cent reservation for OBC and 10 per cent for EWS category in PG All India Quota seats (MBBS/BDS and MD/MS/MDS) from the current academic session.
Such an assurance was given by the Centre after the counsel for the NEET candidates pointed out that the NEET-PG counseling is set to commence from October 25.
In response to the counsel appearing for the NEET students, Nataraj said the communication which the counsel for petitioner is referring to was sent only to the medical colleges for verification of seats and one more notification had been issued on Monday.
"Mr. Datar has got the communication which was sent only to the colleges for the purpose of verification of seats. There is one more clarificatory notification which has been issued today. Otherwise, counselling will not begin unless the issue has been dealt with by the court somehow," ASG Nataraj was quoted saying by Live Law.
"The counselling process will not begin till the court decides the pending batch of petitions," the ASG submitted.
The bench said that it is taking the word on record.
"We will take your word on record that counselling process will not start till we decide the batch of petitions one way or the other. You know, students will be in serious problem, if the process continues," the bench said.
"Certainly, Your Lordships. And if there is any problem at all in the future, Mr. Datar can contact me directly", said the ASG.
Justice Chandrachud also informed the counsel for the NEET candidates that he may freely approach the ASG in case of any issue regarding the matter.