NEET-PG admissions: SC to pronounce verdict on Friday on validity of EWS quotatext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea related to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in connection with the NEET-PG admissions.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna asked the parties to file their written submissions for consideration and added that the court will pronounce its verdict on Friday.
After conducting a day-long hearing on petitions challenging the validity of EWS quota in postgraduate medical admissions and the Union government's argument favouring the quota, the court on Thursday said there is a situation, wherein national interest, the counselling has to begin, which was also a key demand of protesting resident doc
"We have been hearing this matter for two days, we must start counselling in the national interest," the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Union government, argued that all candidates eligible for the EWS quota, as per existing criteria, have got their certificates for registration and added that seats in all government colleges have been increased to accommodate the EWS quota.
"So, this will not harm the chances of general category students....", he added.
Mehta also clarified that super-specialty courses have no reservation and none of the judgments remotely suggests that there cannot be reserved in PG courses. On the aspect of the EWS quota, he said there was a study, application of mind, and wide consultation when the government decided to fix the Rs 8 lakh income limit.
He submitted: "We are not in the exercise to find who is poor. The Constitution uses the word economically weaker section.. whether economically weaker meritorious students can compete with other students, afford tuition etc, are the considerations."
Senior advocates Arvind Datar and Shyam Divan appeared in the court on behalf of some of the candidates. Senior advocate P Wilson appeared for the Tamil Nadu government.
The Union government had told the apex court on Wednesday that it would not accept a position whereby those falling in the OBC or the EWS category, whether before or after the exercise of revisiting the criterion of Rs 8 lakh annual income, are deprived of something that is legitimately due to them.
The Union government has accepted the report of a three-member panel constituted to revisit the EWS criteria. The panel, in its report, said: "Firstly, the EWS's criteria relates to the financial year prior to the year of application whereas the income criterion for the creamy layer in OBC category is applicable to gross annual income for three consecutive years."
The panel added: "Secondly, in case of deciding the OBC creamy layer, income from salaries, agriculture, and traditional artisanal professions are excluded from the consideration whereas the Rs 8 lakh criteria for EWS includes that from all sources, including farming. So, despite being the same cut-off number, their composition is different and hence, the two cannot be equated."
The NEET-PG candidates, who have challenged a July 29, 2021 notification for the implementation of the OBC and the EWS quotas from the 2021-22 academic year, opposed the government's justification of applying the Rs 8 lakh income criterion, saying no study has been conducted on it.
Large-scale protests were held by resident doctors of various hospitals under the banner of the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) in Delhi and other parts of the country over the delay in the NEET-PG counselling, which has been postponed due to the pendency of the case and the Centre deciding to revisit the criterion for the determination of the EWS quota..