Published: 09th May 2022
SC refuses to lower cut-off marks for NEET SS, says merit cannot be disregarded
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant stated that a decision has been taken not to lower the percentile as it was a matter of academic policy
The Supreme Court has declared that the cut-off percentage for NEET super-specialty courses will not be reduced. On Monday, May 9, while hearing a petition that urged for the cut-offs for these courses to be reduced, the court said that it would not interfere.
The petition was being heard by a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, who stated that a decision has been taken not to lower the percentile as it was a matter of academic policy and could not be faulted, as noted by PTI. The Bench also stated that the reasons put forth by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare could not be regarded as "extraneous and arbitrary". The court has also clarified that merit could not be disregarded in the matter and said, "Doctors have to deal with a patient's life and merit cannot be disregarded."
"The question of whether the percentile should be reduced further is a matter of academic policy. In this circumstance, it is not possible for the court to entertain a plea for directing the reduction of the percentile," the Bench said, as reported by PTI. It has also affirmed that the court would not interfere "unless there is manifest arbitrariness".
The petitioners were represented by Senior Advocate PS Patwalia. He had submitted that out of the total number of seats, 940 seats were still vacant for the academic year 2021-22. And if the cut-off was not lowered, the seats would go to waste at a time when the country needs doctors. He had also said that the cut-off has been reduced every now and then and they have been reduced for other courses.
However, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, countered his claims, stating, "During the academic year 2019-20, the cut-off percentile was reduced so as to bring down the number of vacant seats to 272 from 809 due to COVID-19. For the academic year 2020-21, the percentile was reduced to 45 from 50 as a result of which vacant seats were reduced to 91 from the original over 900 seats. For this academic year, the percentile has been maintained as 50 for 940 seats, which have remained vacant because the majority of the seats are those which do remain vacant."