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NEET-PG | 'Such Clamour For Admission Yet Seats Going Vacant, Students Forced To Go To Places Like Ukraine': Delhi HC In Plea To Relax Cut-Off Percentile

Akshita Saxena
15 March 2022 11:45 AM GMT
NEET-PG | Such Clamour For Admission Yet Seats Going Vacant, Students Forced To Go To Places Like Ukraine: Delhi HC In Plea To Relax Cut-Off Percentile
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The Delhi High Court has agreed to hear a petition filed by three MBBS graduates, seeking relaxation in the cut-off percentile prescribed this year by the Medical Council of India for admissions to medical colleges through NEET-PG.The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla will hear the case on March 23. The mop-up counselling round is set to wind up on...

The Delhi High Court has agreed to hear a petition filed by three MBBS graduates, seeking relaxation in the cut-off percentile prescribed this year by the Medical Council of India for admissions to medical colleges through NEET-PG.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla will hear the case on March 23. The mop-up counselling round is set to wind up on March 30, which will be followed by a stray vacancy round.

The percentile for admissions to NEET-PG 2021 was reduced by 15 percentile across all categories by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences last week. However, the petitioners approached the Court stating that despite such lowering of percentile each year, as many as 5,000 seats remain vacant.

Advocate Varun Singh, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the authority follows the 'percentile' criteria for participation in the counselling rounds. He submitted that this is different from the 'percentage' system where the classification is based on merit.

He added that in case the percentile is prescribed at 20%, students who do not fall in the top 20% will not be given a seat no matter the actual merit percentage.

He added that such a policy may have rationale while selecting students for MBBS since, if the percentile system is fully relaxed, then even unqualified an incompetent people may get selected. However, in NEET-PG, where qualified MBBS doctors appear, there is no logic behind restricting the candidates, especially when the seats remain vacant.

Counsel appearing for the Respondents, T Singh Dev argued that yesterday, a similar plea seeking relaxation in the cut-off marks was rejected by the Supreme Court.

He assured the Court that the authority is conscious of the prevailing situation and every year, a policy decision is taken lowering the cut-off percentile. However, he added that the same cannot be dropped to a point where the merit of the candidates is compromised.

"Relaxations for MBBS doctors is still fine because they will be general physicians. But this is PG course. These people will become specialists. There has to be some scrutiny, some level of intellect has to be maintained," he argued.

He pointed out that the petitioners herein had scored merely in the range of 100-130 marks out of 1200 maximum marks. However, the Bench clarified that it is on the larger issue.

Singh Dev then added that he shall present before the Court the files from previous year's counselling round to show that relaxations are granted and only 1,400 seats remained vacant, not 5,000.

Hearing this, the Bench orally remarked,

"Is 1,400 less? That's why people have to go to places like Ukraine. There is dearth of doctors, whether MBBS or specialists. You have vacancies. All infrastructure is there and yet you are not filling the seats. Is it not criminal to leave even one seat vacant? Such a clamour of admissions and you're not admitting."

The Bench explained that Percentile rule is applied to restrict the number of people who come out of the course, irrespective of how good a candidate may have performed, for example in the course of Chartered Accountants. However, applying this rule in NEET-PF prima facie does not make sense since there are vacancies.

"If you want to limit the specialists, then you reduce the vacancies. But as of now seats are going vacant. How is it justified? When you have vacancies, endeavor should be to fill all of them."

Appreciating the concern expressed by Singh Dev on the merits of the candidates, the Bench said, "we understand if you put a benchmark in terms of percentage. Then if there are vacancies, let them be. But you are on percentile system and despite this lowering of percentile, it's not working."

It added,

"Dare we say but the difference between 100 percentile and 50 percentile may be just 2-3 marks. You know how it works. In 0.5 marks there may be difference of 100-200 ranks. These are all students who got into MBBS through an All India Exam. It's not easy. You are actually putting a doubt on your own education system if you think that MBBS students are not competent to undertake the PG course...We are not saying you compromise with the quality or take zero marks candidate. But by percentile, you're consciously restricting number of people into counselling without looking into their actual merit which is the percentage."

The Court has now posted the matter for final hearing on March 23. The Bench has made it clear that given the urgency of the matter, it shall not grant any adjournments. Meanwhile, the Central Government has been directed to produce files relating to fixing and lowering of cut-off percentile for the current year.

Case Title: DR. ABHINAV KUMAR & ORS. v. Union of India

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