NEET PG counselling put on hold as Centre seeks 4 weeks to revisit EWS criteria

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Edited by Maitree Baral, New Delhi

Counseling for admission to medical PG seats has been put on hold till January 6, as the Centre has sought four weeks’ time from the Supreme Court to revisit the income criteria of the EWS quota. The Centre had on July 29 decided to extend 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) in the all-India quota seats.

A statement in this regard was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Thursday. A three-judge bench headed by justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud recorded the statement and postponed the hearing of petitions challenging the EWS/OBC quota in NEET-PG courses till January 6.

The bench said that the NEET PG counseling shall stand postponed till then in view of the earlier statement of the Centre to put counseling on hold till a decision is given by the Court.

On July 29, the central government had announced to reserve 27% seats for OBC and 10% for EWS quota in the all India quota scheme of medical courses.

NEET PG counselling was scheduled to begin on October 25, however, it was postponed by the health directorate after petitions were filed challenging the July 29 announcement. Petitions were filed on several grounds, chief among them being breach of the 50% threshold for providing reservations laid down in 1992 by a ruling by an apex court bench of nine judges, lack of justifiable criteria to identify economically weak beneficiaries, and arbitrary announcement on reservation after the registration process for the postgraduate courses had begun.

The court had then directed the central government to file an affidavit pointing to the study that went behind fixing an annual income cut-off of 8 lakh for identifying EWS candidates, after it had observed that the criteria of 8 lakh to identify the socially advanced among OBCs, known as the creamy layer, cannot be the yardstick to identify EWS beneficiaries.

The EWS quota was introduced in 2019 and the same is also under challenge in a separate proceeding before a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

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