Several pleas pending before SC over quota issues
New Delhi, Dec. 31 (Delhi Crown): Resident doctors withdrew their strike late on Thursday evening, declaring they will resume duties with effect from Friday. Their agitation was against the delayed counselling of NEET-PG, which resulted in a lesser number of resident doctors available at hospitals.
The protesting doctors claimed they were “overloaded” with work, after tirelessly working for over one-and-a-half years amid Covid pandemic, due to the absence of thousands of additional doctors who could have been made available had NEET-PG counselling done on time.
According to a report by law reporting agency LiveLaw, several pleas are pending before the Supreme Court where the appellants claimed proper reservation under the EWS (economically weaker section) category.
The petitions challenged the constitutional validity of EWS-OBC quota in NEET-AIQ. On October 7, a bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had a detailed hearing of the cases, soon after the declaration of the NEET-PG results on September 28.
During that hearing, the SC bench raised several doubts regarding the validity of the annual income criteria of Rupees 8 lakhs adopted by the Central Government to determine the eligibility for EWS quota. The bench’s concerns could be summarized as two-fold:
- How can the Rupees 8 lakh limit be uniformly applied across the country, regardless of the vast regional income disparities?
- Noting that Rupees 8 lakh was the income limit to determine the creamy layer in OBC category, the bench asked how can the same limit be applied to EWS category, in which there is no concept of social and educational backwardness.
The dispute has its origin in the notification issued by the Central Government on July 29 which introduced 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for EWS in the All India Quota (AIQ) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical / dental courses (MBBS/MD/MS/Diploma/BDS/ MDS) from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards.
While the OBC reservation in NEET-AIQ was introduced by the Centre following a contempt case initiated in the Madras High Court by the DMK party, the EWS quota was not introduced on the basis of any judicial intervention. In this context, it is relevant to remember that had the NEET-PG exam taken place in April this year itself as per the original notification (it was postponed to September due to COVID second wave), it would not have been possible to introduce the EWS-OBC quota in AIQ for the current admissions.
“Therefore, the criticism against the Supreme Court for the NEET-PG counselling fiasco is misdirected,” concluded the LiveLaw report.