The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the 27% reservation for the Other Backward Class (OBC) in the Centre's All India Quota (AIQ) in the state government medical institutions for the much-delayed NEET PG counselling 2021.
The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said the existing criteria may be used to identify candidates eligible for the 10% Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in the AIQ. Thus, for now, the Rs 8 lakh annual family income criteria as recommended by the Centre's expert committee is applicable for the identification of EWS candidates so that "the admissions are not dislocated for the current academic year", the court said.
The challenge to the 10% EWS quota will be heard by the Supreme Court in the third week of March.
"We accept the Pandey committee report," the bench said adding that the counselling process for NEET PG and UG can take place in accordance with the issued notifications. The validity of the Pandey Committee's—expert committee constituted by the Centre to revisit the Rs. 8 lakh annual income criteria—recommendations for prospective years will be subject to the decision in the final matter.
The Supreme Court's Friday order greenlit the counselling process for second-year resident doctors who have been handling the burden of Covid cases and not working in their areas of specialisation. The order brings relief to the resident doctors who have been on strike against the delay in the counselling process.
The Supreme Court challenge to the OBC and EWS quota had halted the counselling process for postgraduate students.
The Centre on January 3 had urged the top court to urgently decide pleas challenging the OBC and EWS reservation since the halt in the counselling process had placed undue burdens on doctors.
The inordinate delay—NEET counselling was postponed in Jan 2021 due to COVID 19—has triggered resident doctors to go on strike seeking an expedited resolution in the top court. The strike has left hospitals in a lurch due to a shortage of staff.