Here's why NEET-PG medical counseling remains suspended
Counseling for admissions to National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Post-Graduate (NEET-PG) medical courses has been suspended since the matter reached the Supreme Court. A notification from the Medical Counselling Committee on reservation was challenged in court. According to the notification, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) would be given a 27% reservation and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) will be given a 10% quota in NEET-PG.
- The delay in the counseling led to a massive protest organized by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Residents Doctors Association (RDA) in Delhi.
- Due to the significant wait in counseling for a new batch of doctors, resident doctors say they are at low capacity and are overworked.
- Amid the protest, healthcare services in Delhi have taken a hit.
The 10% EWS quota decision is being challenged before a five-judge SC bench because it provides privileges similar to OBCs. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has assured that the counseling would soon commence, arguing that there is no other way due to the court case. The counseling notably cannot commence as the case is sub-judice. The case was last heard on November 25.
The central government submitted in court it will review the criteria for determining EWS for the purpose of extending reservation benefits. The EWS eligibility criterion was fixed at Rs. 8 lakh in annual income. The court questioned the government to explain the exercises it had undertaken to determine the EWS eligibility criterion. "There must be some data. Sociological, demographic..." said the court.
The bench noted that the OBC quota cap was also set at Rs. 8 lakh per annum. OBCs "suffer from social and educational backwardness," the court argued. "The EWS is not socially and educationally backward. "Therefore, by having a similar scheme for both, you are making unequals equals," it had said. The bench said they had to interfere in the areas of policy.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had maintained that counseling will be paused while revising the quota process. Justice DY Chandrachud argued that students would lose two-three months. Representing the petitioners, advocate Arvind Datar asked if the implementation of quotas could be postponed until next year. Mehta replied, "Deferring a constitutional amendment should be the last resort." The next date of hearing is on January 6.
The lack of an incoming batch has led to a one-third staffing shortage at hospitals. This resulted in other doctors being overburdened. The doctors argue that the Supreme Court and the Union Ministry should expedite court hearings and conclude the case as soon as possible.