The Supreme Court has given a green signal for the NEET counselling process. The counselling to be held this year will have the newly introduced quota of OBC and EWS in the All India Quota. The SC, however, said that it would revisit the rationale of keeping Rs 8 lakh as the limit for availing of EWS quota in March.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said that detailed reasons for the interim order will follow and the counselling for the NEET-PG for the academic year 2021-22 will proceed as per the criteria already notified. The bench said that the validity of criteria of Rs 8 lakh for determination of EWS for future years will be subject to final adjudication of the batch of petitions and listed the pleas for final hearing on March 5.
While the government had suggested that Rs 8 lakh limit should be kept to avail of the EWS quota, the petitioners claimed that there is no research done to keep Rs 8 lakh as income criteria to avail of the reservation. This matter is yet to be resolved, however, the court has said that the NEET PG counselling will begin in “national interest."
Now that the counselling has got a green signal, the medical counselling Committee (MCC) will start the counselling process. This year, four rounds of counselling will be held. MCC is responsible for allotting seats through All India Quota or AIQ while the state governments hold counsellings for state-level seats. As many as 50 per cent of total seats in PG and 15 per cent of total seats in UG medical courses are under AIQ.
After the doctors’ body FORDA claimed during the hearing that having newer reservations in an already delayed process will defer it further. The SC said, “NEET PG counselling has to begin in the national interest." This came as a great relief for doctors who are anticipating that counselling sessions will begin immediately.
A section of NEET PG candidates had challenged the implementation of EWS and OBC reservation in AIQ. As many as 50 per cent of seats in postgraduate courses and 15 per cent in undergraduate courses are disseminated under All India Quota and the central government had introduced 10 per cent reservation for EWS and 27 per cent for OBC under AIQ. Petitioners had also challenged keeping Rs 8 lakh as income limit to avail of the EWS quota.
Till a final decision was arrived at in this case, the counselling was put on hold. The delay in counselling, claimed doctors have caused them mental agony as they have been overworked. The first-year resident doctors have not joined as counselling is delayed but fourth-year ones have been promoted leaving only second and this year resident doctors to manage the load, claimed doctors who had resorted to protests.
The MCC had earlier said that it will expedite the process and conduct the counselling sessions in just four rounds. Many states have also started their counselling process for the state-level seats.