Published: 04th January 2022
SC agrees to hear NEET PG EWS reservation matter on January 5. Counselling date soon?
The Solicitor General, who request for an urgent hearing, cited the doctors' protests for NEET PG counselling, and said their concerns were 'genuine'
After over a month of protests by resident and junior doctors to expedite counselling for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Postgraduate counselling, the centre has finally managed to get the hearing for the plea against EWS reservation preponed, albeit by just a day. The Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, who heard Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's request for an urgent hearing on the matter, citing protests by the doctors, said that the case will be brought up tomorrow, either in front of a judge or a division bench. "It concerns EWS of society. Resident doctors are protesting and their concerns are genuine," the Solicitor General added.
"The problem is it's a three-judge bench matter, this entire week is a miscellaneous week. Let me see if tomorrow some judge is available, we will constitute a bench. Let me see. If possible I will constitute a three-judge bench or it will go before a division bench tomorrow," the CJI told the Solicitor General.
On Monday, Mehta mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before a Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud. Justice Chandrachud had said he would consult the CJI and see if a special bench can be constituted for hearing the case tomorrow (Tuesday) or the day after (Wednesday).
The case was originally slated for hearing on January 6. On December 31, the Centre filed an affidavit stating that it has decided to stick to the existing criteria of Rs 8 lakh annual income limit for determination of 10 per cent EWS reservation with respect to the ongoing admissions to the NEET postgraduate courses.
The Centre informed the apex court that an Expert Committee constituted by the government to reassess the criteria, suggested that the existing criteria may be continued for ongoing admissions while the revised criteria suggested by the Committee may be adopted from the next admission cycle.
Changing the EWS criteria midway will lead to complications, the Committee has opined while recommending the introduction of revised EWS criteria from the next academic year.
The affidavit has stated, "The Central government has decided to accept the recommendations of the Committee including the recommendation of applying the new criteria prospectively." The three-member committee was constituted by the Centre after the apex court had expressed serious reservations about whether or not any study was conducted at all, before fixing the Rs 8 lakh limit for determining EWS.
Earlier, the apex court had asked the Centre to put on hold the counselling for NEET-PG until it decides the validity of the Centre's decision to introduce OBC and EWS reservation in All India Quota (AIQ). It had said that NEET-PG counselling will not start without its approval as the court is examining a plea against Centre's decision for medical admission.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Centre and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) July 29, 2021 notice providing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10 per cent for EWS category for the admission in the NEET for all medical seats. The July 29 notice provide 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 (AQI) seats (MBBS/BDS and MD/MS/MDS) with effect from the current academic session 2021-22.
On October 21, the Bench had asked the Centre whether it would like to revisit the limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income, fixed for determining the EWS category for reservation in NEET admissions for medical courses. It had asked Centre whether any exercise was undertaken before fixing a limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income for determining the EWS category.