Supreme Court allows NEET-PG counseling with EWS, OBC quotas
The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the counseling for NEET-PG 2021-22 to go ahead as per the existing criteria. This means there will be a 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community while candidates from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) will be subject to a 10% reservation. Meanwhile, a detailed hearing on the EWS reservation criteria will be held in March 2022.
Why does this story matter?
- The news might be seen as a big relief for medical students who had been waiting for admissions for several months now.
- In fact, there were widespread protests by doctors in Delhi and other areas over the delay in the counseling procedure.
- After the Supreme Court's clearance, nearly 50,000 MBBS doctors will join the healthcare workforce—a much-needed addition amid the current COVID-19 surge.
What did the court say?
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said there was an urgent need to start the counseling procedure. "We accept the recommendations...that the EWS criteria, as notified in 2019, should be used for admissions to NEET-PG for the academic session 2021-22," the bench stated. The court had reserved its orders in the matter on Thursday.
Rs. 8 lakh income criterion maintained
In its Friday order, the Supreme Court allowed the Rs. 8 lakh income criterion to identify EWS beneficiaries for this year. However, future admissions will be subject to the top court's final judgment on the issue, which is expected in March. In the previous hearing, the central government had advised against changing admission norms at this time, saying that would lead to complications.
Resident doctors protested the delay
In December 2021, resident doctors of several top government hospitals had taken to the streets in protest against the delay in NEET-PG counseling. They accused the government of dragging its feet in the matter. Doctors also threatened an indefinite strike, arguing the delay in fresh admissions significantly increased their workload. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had then met with protesting doctors and provided assurances.