The Union government on Thursday, November 25, told the Supreme Court that it has taken a considered decision to revisit the limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income fixed for determining the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category for reservation in NEET admissions for post-graduate medical courses. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that a committee will be constituted to determine the criteria for EWS and it would take four weeks. SG Mehta said that NEET (PG) counselling would stand postponed for a further four weeks as per the assurance earlier given to the court.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by students challenging the Union government and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC)â€™s July 29 notice, providing 27% reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10% for EWS category in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG) admissions for medical courses for the current academic year.
Justice Kant said that the EWS quota is a very enabling and progressive kind of reservation and all States should support the government in its endeavour. The bench said that the only question is that determination of the category should be in a scientific manner.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for petitioners (students), said since a lot of time has passed and the Union government should push back implementation of the EWS quota for the next academic year and the current year counselling should be allowed to go on. The bench agreed with the submission of Datar, and asked Mehta whether it could push the implementation of the constitutional amendment for the next academic year and allow the counselling to go on for the current academic year.
Mehta said that the government has taken a decision to implement the 103rd constitutional amendment from the current academic year and pushing back would not be appropriate. He said that if the determination is done earlier than four weeks then it will inform the court.
The bench told Datar that four weeks is not unreasonable and it doesn't want to push the government to do it earlier otherwise the criteria would be fixed in an unscientific and haphazard manner.
Advocate Shashank Ratnoo, appearing on behalf of some OBC candidates, requested that the application of reservation to OBC students should not be deferred as the government is planning to revisit the EWS criteria.
The bench said that it has not said anything about OBC students and is not disposing of the petition.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on January 6.
On October 21, the top court asked the Union government whether it would like to revisit the limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income fixed for determining the EWS category for reservation in NEET PG admissions. The top court had clarified that it is not embarking into the policy domain but is only trying to ascertain whether constitutional principles have adhered or not.
The bench said that as per the explanation in the 103rd constitution amendment says that criteria for EWS will be notified by the state governments, then how can the Centre notify a uniform EWS criterion for the whole of the country.
On September 17, the top court had agreed to hear a batch of pleas of students against the July 29 notice providing 27% reservation for OBC and 10% for EWS category in 15% of UG and 50% of PG All India Quota seats (MBBS/BDS and MD/MS/MDS) with effect from the current academic session 2021-22. The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) in its July 29 notice said that 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10 per cent for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category will be provided in NEET (PG) admissions for medical courses.