Pronouncement of Order: OBC/EWS Res for PG NEETOBC & EWS Reservation in Postgraduate Medical Admissions (PG NEET)
Responding to resident doctors’ call for swift action to address staff shortages at hospitals across the country, the Supreme Court, on January 7th 2022, allowed the Union Government to conduct admissions in postgraduate (PG) medical degrees with 27% OBC reservations and 10% EWS reservations.
Following this order, 2021 admissions to PG medical degrees, which have been delayed by eight months, will finally be conducted. The admissions were first delayed due to COVID-19. Subsequently, doctors and PG candidates challenged the Union Government’s reservation policy at the Supreme Court. While the challenges remained pending, admissions were further delayed because the Union Government refused to conduct admissions without reservations. Without new admissions, the healthcare system fell short of nearly 60,000 doctors. The Court’s order allowing reservations will enable admissions to fill these vacancies as the Third Wave climbs to a peak.
Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna, while pronouncing the order, clarified that the Union Government’s ₹ 8 lakhs EWS income criteria can be temporarily implemented for 2021 admissions so that no further delays are caused. However, the validity of the criteria requires more deliberation. The Bench will hear final arguments on the criteria in March 2022. In the hearings so far, the Bench has expressed concerns that the Union Government devised the criteria without reasoning or due application of mind.
The Bench upheld the validity of OBC reservations in the All India Quota for postgraduate admissions in 2021 and the years to come. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan had previously argued that the All India Quota was created as an unreserved quota by the Supreme Court. He suggested that reservations in the quota can only be granted with the Court’s approval. By upholding the Union’s OBC reservations policy, the Bench rejected Mr.Divan’s argument. An order detailing reasons is expected soon.