Supreme Court: Considering the urgent need to commence the process of Counselling, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and AS Bopanna, JJ, has directed that counselling on the basis of NEET-PG 2021 and NEET- UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the reservation as provided by the notice dated 29 July 2021, including the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC category and 10 per cent reservation for EWS category in the All India Quota seats.
The order came after the notice issued by the Directorate General of Health Services in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 29 July 2021 was challenged by the doctors who appeared in the NEET- PG 2021 examination.
The notice implements a 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes1 (non-creamy layer) and a 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Section, while filling up 15 per cent undergraduate and 50 per cent post-graduate All India Quota seats in pursuance of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test. The notice takes effect from the current admission year, 2021-2022.
It was argued before the Court that there cannot be any reservation for the OBC and EWS category in the AIQ seats in NEET-PG and that the criteria for the determination of the EWS category notified by O.M 36039/1/2019 (OM 2019) was unconstitutional.
On 25 October 2021, the Union Government of its own accord deferred the counselling due to the pendency of the petitions. Thereafter, the Union Government filed an affidavit justifying the EWS criteria on 26 October 2021 stating that the criteria was adopted after due deliberation within the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and all the concerned stakeholders.
The Union Government formed the Panday Committee on 30 November 2021 to review the criteria for identifying EWS. The Committee submitted its report on 31 December 2021. Thereafter, the Union Government filed an affidavit before this Court accepting the recommendations of the Committee including the recommendation that the existing criteria for identifying EWS be retained for the present admission year 2021-2022.
While the Supreme Court observed that the formulation of the reasons in the interim order on the EWS reservation would take some time, it upheld the validity of the OBC reservation in the AIQ seats in NEET-PG and NEET-UG and directed that the counselling be conducted in order to ensure that the admission process is not dislocated.
The Court further directed that,
- The criteria for the determination of the EWS notified by OM 2019 shall be used for identifying the EWS category for candidates who appeared for the NEET-PG 2021 and NEET-UG 2021 examinations;
- The validity of the criteria determined by the Pandey Committee for identification of EWS would prospectively for the future be subject to the final result of the petitions; and
- The petitions shall be listed for final hearing on the validity of the EWS criteria as recommended by the Pandey Committee in the third week of March 2022.
[Neil Aurelio Nunes v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 21, decided on 07.01.2022]
*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud
For petitioners: Senior Advocates Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan and Anand Grover and AORs Charu Mathur, Vivek Singh, Subodh S. Patil
For Respondents: SG Tushar Mehta, ASG Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General, ASG Vikramajit Banerjee and Senior Advocates P Wilson, Mariarputham