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NEET PG 2021: Supreme Court dismisses plea challenging 40% quota to in-service medical officers in West Bengal

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed against medical officer’s quota in the NEET-PG 2021 examination as per the West Bengal government notification which provided 40% reservation for post-graduate dental and medical and post-doctoral medical officers in the state.

The bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai referred to an earlier Supreme Court judgment that the state government and the legislature can fix quota for the PG diploma courses for serving officers.

In fact, the notification issued by the Bengal Department of Health and Family Welfare on October 8 for the NEET PG examination for doctors in the state was challenged. The notification pertained to provisions of in-service quota for the post-graduate dental and medical and post-doctoral medical counselling for seats available in government and private colleges against the set quota.

The notification was challenged by doctors who weren’t in government service. Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur, appearing for one of the petitioners, submitted they sought limited relief for in-service quota of the current academic year not being implemented.

On this instance, the bench referred to its own verdict on Tamil Nadu Medical Officer’s Association and Others v Union of India and Others, where the legislative competency of the states to make reservations for doctors in-service in the post-graduate and post-doctoral medical courses is discussed by the bench.

The bench said when states already have these rights and powers, it will not interfere.

Mathur clarified she was not trying to challenge the competency of the state to make reservations. Instead pointing out that under normal situations, the results would have been declared in May 2021 but since the examination was postponed due to Covid-19, and the notification was issued in October 2021 by the government of West Bengal.

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The present petition seeks issuance of directions to the Department to provide the basis on which the 40% reservation was arrived at and to commence state counselling without reservation provided for by the notice. The 40% reservation for in-service category was in absolute disregard of the fundamental rights, and the doctors sought stay on the said notification for the current academic year and/or till the pendency of this writ petition.

Doctors had further sought for issuance of directions to the Department to omit implementation of 40% reservation and provide an incentive at the rate of 10% of the marks obtained for each year in-service in remote areas up to the maximum of 30% of the marks obtained.

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