The Supreme Court authorized the start of the counseling process for NEET-PGs and NEET-UGs for 2021-22 admissions on Friday based on the existing quota of 27% for other backward classes (OBCs) and a reservation 10% for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the whole India quota.
The Court confirmed the constitutionality of 27% of the OBC reserve. Regarding the criteria for determining the SAP (gross annual income threshold of Rs 8 lakhs), the Court allowed the existing criteria to operate for the current intake year so as not to further delay the process of admission. admission. However, the future application of the SAP criteria, which was stipulated in the Office memorandum of July 2019, will be subject to the final outcome of the petitions.
A bench including Judge DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, who had reserved orders yesterday, delivered the verdict this morning.
The Court issued an interim order with the following directions:
1. We accept the recommendations of the Pandey committee that the criteria that were stipulated in OM 2019 (for SAP) be used for 2021-2022 to ensure that the admissions process does not get dislocated.
2. The advice on the basis of NEET PG 2021 and NEET UG 2021 will be carried out by giving effect to the resolution provided for in the opinion of July 29, 2021, including the reservation of 27% for the OBC category and the reservation of 10% for the EWS category in the All India category Contingent seats
3. The criteria for determining the SAP notified by OM 2019 will be used to identify the category of SAP that presented itself to the Neet UG and Neet PG 2021 exams.
4. The validity of the criteria determined by the Pandey committee to identify the SAP prospectively for the future will be subject to the final results of the petitions.
5. The petition must be registered for a final hearing on the validity of the SAP criteria, as recommended by the Pandey committee during the third week of March 2022.
Senior Counsel Shyam Divan, Arvind P Datar, P Wilson, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General of India KM Nataraj and a few interveners in the case presented numerous arguments to the judiciary during two days.
Summary of arguments
Senior lawyer Shyam Divan argued that the introduction of OBC / EWS reservations in July after the review notice was released was to change the rules of the game halfway.
His arguments were mainly twofold – that the introduction of the OBC / EWS quota was to change the rules of the game halfway; that the quota could not be established by executive instruction since the AIQ was cut by the Court.
He also argued that postgraduate admissions should be entirely merit-based, and bookings should be minimal. He referred to Supreme Court rulings that there should be no reservations in super-specialty courts.
“In many courses, the third cycle is the end of the road, and it is the super-specialty in some departments. So the principle regarding super-specialty courses will also apply to post-graduate courses.”, he submitted.
Lead counsel Arvind Datar argued that the Rs 8 lakh threshold for SAP is “over-inclusive” and “arbitrary” and was adopted without conducting any proper study. According to him, applying this criterion uniformly across the country is unreasonable, given regional income disparities. He urged the court to order the Center to adopt the criteria of Rs 2.5 lakhs (up to which there is no income tax), if so, the SAP should be implemented .
Refuting these arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the criteria for the SAP were defined after much deliberation. He stressed that the exercise is not to identify the “poor” category but the “economically weaker sections”. Thus, it should be distinguished from the GLP category.
The Union government’s top lawyer argued that not allowing reservations in the All India quota would amount to discrimination.
The Solicitor General had made submissions asking the court to allow the NEET-PG consultation to begin.
Senior lawyer P Wilson, representing the DMK party, made arguments in support of the OBC reservation in All India Quota.
The case concerns the challenge to the validity of the Centre’s decision to introduce the OBC / EWS reservation into India’s NEET admissions quota. The dispute stems from the notification issued by the central government on July 29, which introduced a 27% reservation for other backward classes (OBC) and a 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the All India quota (AIQ) for undergraduates. and medical / dental postgraduate courses (MBBS / MD / MS / Diploma / BDS / MDS) from the current academic year 2021-22.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court raised doubts as to the reasonableness of the gross annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh adopted by the Center to determine the SAP threshold. The bench also adopted a detailed order recording its doubts about the reasonableness of the SAP limit.
On November 25, the Center agreed to review the SAP criteria in light of the Court’s concerns and decided to form a committee to look into the matter. The Center searched for weeks to find time to complete the exercise. As a result, the Supreme Court then adjourned the case to January 6, 2022.
Last week, the Center filed an affidavit stating that the Committee recommended that the existing SAP criteria be maintained for current admissions and that it accepted the recommendation.
In the report on the review of the SAP reservation criteria, the Committee felt that disrupting the existing system which has been running since 2019 at the end of it would create more complications than expected for both beneficiaries and authorities. In this regard, the Committee recommended to introduce the new criteria from the next academic year.
“Under these circumstances, it is highly inadvisable and impractical to apply the new criteria (which are recommended in this report) and change the focus in the midst of ongoing processes, resulting in inevitable delays and complications. preventable. When the existing system is underway from 2019, no serious damage would be caused if this continued this year as well. Changing the criteria halfway will also result in a series of litigation in various courts across the country by people whose eligibility suddenly changes.
The Committee, therefore, after having analyzed the pros and cons on this issue and having given serious consideration, recommends that the existing and ongoing criteria in each ongoing process where an SAP reservation is available be maintained and that the recommended criteria in this report can be made applicable from the next announcement / admission cycle, “ Committee had stated the report in this regard.
Based on the recommendations, the central government agreed to accept the Committee’s recommendation to apply the new criteria prospectively.
It can be noted that medical residents across the country have recently launched protests across the country against the delay of the NEET-PG council.