The Supreme Court Friday said the decision of the Centre and the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) not to have a Special Stray Round of counselling for All India Quota in NEET-PG-2021 is “in the interest of Medical Education and Public Health” and dismissed a batch of petitions seeking to fill the vacant 1,456 seats. A vacation bench of Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose said there cannot be any compromise with the quality of medical education which will affect public health.
The decision of the Union Government and the Medical Counselling Committee not to have special stray round of counselling is in the interest of medical education and public health. There cannot be any compromise with the merits and/or quality of Medical Education, which may ultimately affect the Public Health, the bench said while noting that it was a conscious decision and cannot be termed as arbitrary. The top court said the process of admission and that too in the medical education cannot be endless and it must end at a particular point in time.
The time schedule has to be adhered to, otherwise, ultimately, it may affect medical education and public health, it said. The apex court said the MCC and the Union of India have to adhere to the time schedule for completing the admission process when the current admission of NEET-PG-2021 is already behind the schedule.
When a conscious decision is taken by the Union Government/the Medical Counselling Committee, not to conduct a further Special Stray Round ocounselling, it cannot be said that the same is arbitrary,” the bench said. The apex court said the students cannot pray for admission to the vacant seats, which are mostly non-clinical, after approximately one year of the academic session and after eight to nine rounds of counselling.
Apart from the fact that after the closure of the last round of counselling on May 7, 2022, the entire software mechanism has been closed and the security deposit is refunded to the eligible candidates, it is to be noted that the admission process for NEET-PG-2022 has already begun, the results for the NEET-PG-2022 has been announced on June 1, 2022, and as per the time schedule, the counselling process is going to start in July 2022, the bench said. Therefore, if one additional Special Stray Round of counselling is conducted now, as prayed, in that case, it may affect the admission process for NEET-PG-2022, the top court said.
In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the petitioners are not entitled to any relief of a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to conduct a Special Stray Round of counselling for filling up the remaining vacant seats of NEET-PG-2021. Granting of such relief now may affect the medical education and ultimately the public health as observed hereinabove. Under the circumstances, both these writ petitions and the special leave petitions deserve to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed, the bench said.
The top court had on Thursday said there has to be a limit to the stray round of counselling for All India Quota in NEET-PG-21 and the students cannot be given admission by compromising the education and health of people. The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) informed the top court on Wednesday that it has concluded four rounds of online counselling for NEET-PG-21 and it cannot fill 1,456 seats by conducting a special stray round of counselling as the software stands closed.
On Wednesday, the apex court had pulled up the MCC for leaving more than 1,450 seats vacant in NEET-PG-21, saying it will not only put the aspirants in difficulty but would also lead to a dearth of doctors. The batch of petitions has been filed by doctors who appeared in NEET-PG 2021-22 examination and participated in Rounds 1 and 2 of the All India Quota (AIQ) Counselling and State Quota Counselling which was followed by All India Mop-Up and State Mop-Up Rounds and concluded on May 7 by the MCC post the All India Stray Vacancy Round.
One of the petitions filed by Dr Astha Goel and others through advocate Tanvi Dubey said on April 18, vide a notification, the MCC declared that there existed 323 vacant seats in UG Counselling, and in order to make sure that these precious seats do not go to waste, they would be conducting a Special Stray Round for the same. The plea said it is pertinent to mention here that this is a practice that has been followed by the MCC previously wherein Special Stray Rounds for UG and PG have been conducted in order to ensure that seats don’t go vacant. However, this wasn’t followed this year.