Published: 25th November 2021
NEET PG 2021: Counselling postponed to next year. Govt to revisit criteria governing EWS quota
The centre has agreed to review the criteria for the Economically weaker sections and has said that the process will take at least 4 weeks. The matter has been pushed to Jan next year
The Centre has agreed to revisit the criteria for reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections as mentioned in Article 15 of the Constitution, according to the 103rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2019. This is a major development in the ongoing Supreme Court hearings of petitions against the NEET PG All India Quota reservation for Other Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections.
A three-judge bench consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath was informed by the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, on behalf of the centre, that a committee will be formed to review the criteria for the Economically Weaker Sections which was set at Rs 8 lakh per annum, and the centre will intimate the court on the same within four weeks time. He also assured the court that the counselling will be on hold until then.
However, the bench was not too happy with that response and mentioned that the academic term will only be delayed further. However, since the process to reset the criteria will require a constitutional amendment, the bench agreed to the centre's proposal. Justice Chandrachud said that the bench will record the statement made by the centre and schedule the next hearing of the case for January 6, 2022.
In a hearing on October 25, a bench led by Justice Chandrachud had found the criteria of both OBC and EWS set at 8 lakh to be arbitrary, and had asked the centre to file an affidavit answering a list of questions explaining the rationale behind the decision. “You can’t just pull numbers out of thin air,” the court had said. Following that direction, the centre had submitted an affidavit earlier this month explaining the numbers behind the criteria.
The bench called the EWS category extremely ‘pragmatic’ and has said that the date of counselling shall stand postponed. It is to be noted that the NEET PG results were announced a month ago, on October 13, and the students have been waiting for the counselling to begin ever since, for an academic year that has been delayed already due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitioning students, who say that the reservation is not necessary at the PG level where all students write the entrance test as MBBS qualified doctors, were represented by Senior Adv Arvind Datar and Senior Adv Shyam Divan.