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No change likely in NEET-PG admissions over EWS this year
The Rs 8 lakh annual income limit criterion for the reservation of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS ) in the NEET-PG admissions in the all- India quota will remain, according to an affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court following the submission of the committee report. The committee recommends that there should not be any changes in the admissions this year as it is too late. The recommendations may take effect next year.

NEW DELHI, Jan 2: The Centre has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the Rs 8 lakh annual income criterion for the reservation of the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) in the NEET-PG admissions in the all-India quota will remain. It said it was accepting the recommendations of a three-member committee set up to evaluate the EWS criteria after the apex court had raised questions over a lack of methodology in determining the indicators for fixing the income limit.

As the committee stated that the implementation of the changes now will create problems, the recommendations will apply prospectively and will not affect the current admissions. “The existing system which is going on since 2019, if disturbed at the end or fag-end of the process would create more complications than expected both for the beneficiaries as well as for the authorities,” it pointed out.

The committee submitted its report on December 31 and the Centre filed the affidavit same day. The report supported the Rs 8 lakh limit that has been in place since 2019 and suggested changes on applying the limit. It said, “EWS may, however exclude, irrespective of income, a person whose family has 5 acres of agricultural land and above." Also the residential asset criteria will go. The committee comprised of former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Member Secretary ICSSR VK Malhotra and Principal Economic Advisor to the Centre Sanjeev Sanyal.

Earlier, when the Supreme Court had asked the Centre, 'How did you arrive at Rs 8 lakh as annual income limit for EWS in connection with the NEET-PG admissions, the Centre had said on November 25 that it would revisit the criterion to determine EWS for reservation benefits and had sought four weeks to complete the exercise. The court had noted, “You can’t just pull out Rs 8 lakh from anywhere. There must be some data. Sociological, demographic.”

The EWS reservation was introduced under Articles 15 and 16 in the 103rd Constitutional amendment which state that the indicators of economic disadvantage may be notifiued by the State. But the OBC criteria cannot be simply copied. The the nature of the exercise undertaken in order to determine the criteria must be disclosed, the court had said.

On October 15, when the petitioners submitted that the dates for the counselling had been fixed the Centre assured that the counselling would not take place till the matter is settled.

The July 29 notification of the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) providing 27% reservation for the OBC and 10% for the EWS categories for NEET-PG admissions in the all-India quota was challenged in the apex court through several petitions. The issue pending in the court, the admissions were kept in abeyance.

Last month the resident doctors had launched an agitation over the delay in admissions which was called off last Friday on the Centre's assurance to announce the counselling dates soon.

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