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Supreme Court adjourns plea for reducing percentile cut-offs for NEET-PG 2021

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The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned its hearing in a plea seeking directions to further reduce the qualifying percentile criteria across categories published on March 12, 2022 by the National Board of Examination more than what was reduced for NEET-PG 2020 on July 14, 2020, to accommodate the mitigating and extenuating circumstances that were unique to the candidates who had appeared in NEET-PG 2021, owing to Covid-19.

The petition has been filed by Advocate-On-Record Shivendra Singh. The matter was listed before the bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai.

The petition has challenged the fixation of reduced cut-off marks on March 12, 2022 for NEET-PG 2021 which is markedly lesser than the reduction of qualifying percentile for NEET-PG 2020. It is the contention of the petitioners that they have worked on the frontline, high-risk duties during the surge of Covid-19 cases in 2021 apart from preparing for NEET-PG 2021.

“The fixation of reduced cut-off marks across categories ought to have been more than what was done for NEET-PG 2020 on 14.7.2020 to accommodate the mitigating and extenuating circumstances that were unique to the candidates who had appeared in NEET-PG 2021”

-reads the petition.

“In NEET-PG 2018, the qualifying percentile was reduced by 15 points, in NEET-PG 2019 by 7 points, in NEET-PG 2020 by 20 points, and in NEET-PG 2021 it has been reduced by 15 points,” stated in the petition.

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The petitioners through the writ petition raised the following questions –

a) In NEET-PG 2018, the qualifying percentile was reduced by 15 points, in NEET-PG 2019 by 7 points, in NEET-PG 2020 by 20 points, and in NEET-PG 2021 it has been reduced by 15 points. What is the rationale for not reducing it more as compared to NEET-PG 2020 when there are more vacant seats as compared to 2020?

b) The Hon’ble Health and Family Welfare Minister had stated before the Lok Sabha that 1,425 PG medical seats remained vacant last year and had underlined the importance of reduction of qualifying percentile to fill up the vacant seats.

c) The doctor-population ratio in India is 0.74:1000 for a population of 1.4 billion as of December 2021. If India really intends to achieve the WHO doctor-patient ratio of 1:1000, then more doctors are needed. This is also the avowed objective of the National Health Policy, 2017.

d) The basis on which the qualifying percentile is lowered by the Union of India in terms of the proviso to Regulation 9(3) of the PGME Regulations is not clear.

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According to the petition, the Health and Family Welfare Minister had stated before the Lok Sabha that 1,425 PG medical seats remained vacant last year and had underlined the importance of reduction of qualifying percentile to fill up the vacant seats.

Case Name- Dr. Sushil Badgaiya & Ors. vs Union of India & Ors.

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