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Supreme Court extends stay on NEET-AIQ counselling, Centre to rework EWS quota

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The Supreme Court on Thursday extended the stay in place on the counseling process for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test All India Quota (NEET-AIQ) for the time being. The Centre told the Supreme Court that it will reconsider the eligibility criteria for the Economic Weaker Sections (EWS), which is currently set at family income of Rs 8 lakh per annum.

The bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath heard the matter where the reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and EWS quotas in admission to PG medical courses has been challenged. In July, the Centre had decided to provide reservation to OBCs and EWS in All India Quota of medical/dental colleges in states.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the Central government will review whether there will be an annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for EWS or not. Mehta said this process will take four weeks.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare submitted that this decision will benefit about 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 OBC students in PG every year. While 550 students of EWS category will benefit in MBBS and about 1,000 students in PG.

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The bench recorded,

“The learned Solicitor General who appears on behalf of the Union of India along with ASG KM Nataraj state that the Government has taken a decision to revisit the criteria with regard to determining the Economically Weaker Sections in terms of the provisions of the explanation to Art 15 of the Constitution inserted by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act. The Solicitor General states that a period of 4 weeks would be required for this exercise and pending its conclusion, the date of counselling shall stand postponed. This is in view of the assurance which was made at a earlier stage. We direct for listing the hearing of the proceedings on January 6, 2021.”

A number of petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the notification of July 29 of the Centre and the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC). In this notification, out of 50 percent seats fixed for All India Quota, a provision has been made to provide 27 percent reservation for OBC and 10 percent for EWS in NEET PG medical entrance examination.

The court will next hear the matter on January 6.

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