SC Hears EWS Reservation Case as Third Wave Approaches

DESK BRIEF: Hospitals short of 60,000 doctors as the SC hears case on reservation for OBC & EWS students in Postgraduate NEET courses.

Hospitals across the country are short of nearly 60,000 doctors as the Union Government has halted counselling for postgraduate NEET medical students. The shortage of doctors comes at a time when India braces for the Third Wave of COVID-19. 

The fate of PG NEET counselling is contingent on a case before the Supreme Court, where doctors and medical students have challenged reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in PG medical courses. 

In July 2021, the Union notified 10% reservation for EWS candidates under the All India Quota for PG medical students. It set an ₹ 8 Lakh income limit to determine which students would be eligible for reservation under EWS. PG medical students and doctors challenged this criteria for being arbitrary

On November 25th 2021, the Union Government sought time to revise the criteria, and refused to conduct counselling until they were permitted to grant reservations for OBC and EWS candidates. On December 31st 2021, a Union appointed Expert Committee found the criteria valid and recommended that the Union conduct counselling at the earliest. It suggested some tweaks to the criteria that could be implemented in the next academic year. 

Today, a two-judge Bench heard the matter again. The petitioners argued that while the Report justifies the ₹ 8 Lakh income limit, it does not explain how the Union Government arrived at that amount. The Court will hear the matter again tomorrow. 

Our reports on each hearing in the case are available here