The Supreme Court approved the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate and Postgraduate (NEET-PG) admissions on Friday, sustaining the OBC quota of 27% and the EWS quota of 10% for the academic year 2021-22.
A Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna also accepted the recommendations of the Ajay Bhushan Pandey Committee and stuck to the Rs 8 lakh income cut-off for identifying those eligible for the EWS quota for the current admission cycle.
The Bench, while passing the judgment, stated that the validity of the criteria determined by the committee would prospectively be subject to its final order. The court said it will hear the matter in detail in the third week of March.
Petitioners in the matter had challenged the July 29 notification of the Medical Counseling Committee (MCC) providing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and 10 per cent for the EWS category in the NEET-UG and PG (All India Quota).
Hearing the petitions, the SC had asked the Centre to explain what exercise it had undertaken to arrive at the Rs 8-lakh criteria. Responding to this, the Centre told the court on November 25, 2021, that it will revisit the criteria and sought four weeks’ time to complete the exercise.
Subsequently, it appointed a three-member committee comprising former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Member Secretary ICSSR V K Malhotra and Principal Economic Advisor to the government Sanjeev Sanyal. The committee submitted its report on December 31, 2021, recommending that the Rs 8-lakh limit, which has continued since 2019, may be retained, but suggested some changes regarding application for the same.
It also favoured continuing with the existing system as the admission process was already on and that, if disturbed at the end or fag-end, would create more complications than expected — both for the beneficiaries as well as for the authorities.
The petitioners had opposed the recommendation saying the report was an admission that the government had not conducted any study before fixing the Rs 8 lakh limit for EWS in 2019.