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NEET-PG : Supreme Court Orders Status Quo In Mop-Up Round Counselling; Asks DGHS To Revisit Addition Of 146 Seats & Bar On Students Who Took State Quota Seats

Shruti Kakkar
30 March 2022 7:51 AM GMT
NEET-PG : Supreme Court Orders Status Quo In Mop-Up Round Counselling; Asks DGHS To Revisit Addition Of 146 Seats & Bar On Students Who Took State Quota Seats
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Observing that there were problematic aspects in the process of counselling for mop-up rounds for the NEET-PG All India Quota seats, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Union of India through the Director General of Health Services ("DGHS") to revisit the issues to set right the anomalies highlighted by the Court.The Court has asked the Union to respond by tomorrow and until then has...

Observing that there were problematic aspects in the process of counselling for mop-up rounds for the NEET-PG All India Quota seats, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Union of India through the Director General of Health Services ("DGHS") to revisit the issues to set right the anomalies highlighted by the Court.

The Court has asked the Union to respond by tomorrow and until then has ordered status quo in the mop-up round counselling position for All India Quota seats as on today.

The Court expressed concerns at two aspects :

1. The addition of 146 new seats in government colleges in the mop-up round, which were not available in rounds 1 and 2; 

2. The lack of uniform application of the notice dated March 16 of the Medical Counselling Committee which bars students who have taken admissions in state quota from participating in the mop-up round.

To obviate further complications, the Court ordered that the position in mop-up round counselling be kept at where it is now till the matter is heard tomorrow.

146 seats were not available in previous rounds

The Court noted that the 146 new seats added in the mop-up round were not available in rounds 1 and 2 of the counselling for AIQ seats. 

The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Bela Trivedi noted in the order :

"As a consequence, students who were allotted seats in round 1 and 2 did not have the opportunity to participate in these 146 seats. A decision was taken that the new 146 seats will be included in the mop up round.

As a consequence of this decision, these seats have been allocated, admittedly, to students who are lower in merit than those who were allotted seats in rounds 1 and 2 in AIQ. In our view, this is the first aspect of the matter which needs to be revisited by the DGHs as the consequence of this decision is to prevent students who are higher in merit and who had no opportunity to apply for these government seats"

Non-uniform application of March 16 advisory

The bench further noted that the second aspect which was of equal importance was the non-uniform application of the March 16 notice.

"The Second aspect which is of equal importance arises from March 16 notice as a consequence of which candidates who are allotted seats in round 1 and 2 in state quota are prevented from participating in mop up of AIQ. In this regard, the contention of the candidates is that the scheme which was placed on record in this court(in the Nikhila PP case) specifically dealt only with AIQ and there was no prohibition on students from candidates in state quota from participating in the AIQ mop up rounds. Prima facie it appears that the advisory dated March 16 has not been uniformly followed as a result of which some candidates inspite of advisory was permitted to appear in mop-up and while others in compliance with notice did not appear as they run the risk of surrendering their seats".

"If the advisory dated 16.03.2022 has not been admittedly followed uniformly across the country, this would create serious doubt as to whether the allocation of the seat in the AIQ mop-up round is fair"

"Before disposing of these matters, we are of that the Union of India should be given an opportunity to set right the anomalies", the Bench added in the order.

The bench was considering two sets of matters :-

One group of petitions were preferred by the doctors who had appeared in NEET PG 2021 and participated in Round 1 of the Counseling and had joined one course but was not provided an upgrade in Round 2 and thus intended to apply for the Mop-Up round.

Another petition which challenges Medical Counselling Committee's notice dated March 16, 2022(impugned notice) which bars the participation in the mop up round counseling for NEET PG Admissions if the candidate has picked up seat in State Quota 2 counseling.

Court room exchange

The bench pointed out that a "messy situation" has arisen whereby candidates who opted seats in the initial counselling rounds are seeing less meritorious candidates "marching ahead" with better courses allocated in the mop-up rounds.

The bench pointed out that adding of 146 seats in the mop-up rounds has created issues and said that the authorities have to do something about it.

"This mess has been created with these 146 seats. You have to go back to the drawing board and think what can be done. It'll have human consequences frankly", Justice Chandrachud told Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati who was appearing for the Directorate General of Health Services and Medical Counselling Committee.

The bench expressed concerns at the giving of 146 seats to people who are in lower in the merit.

"You can say that these 146 seats which came after the conclusion of round 2, these seats will be available to anyone in AIQ who desires to apply for these seats and who has crossed round 2. Those 146 seats which became surplus can be allotted to anyone else without penalty and in order of merit. This may not take more than a week or so", Justice Chandrachud suggested.

"We are not tinkering with scheme but these 146 seats you can re-allot to the ones who participated in round 2 and those 146 which are available can be re allotted", Justice Chandrachud added.

"Wise decision should have been to add these seats from the next year, instead of creating this mess", Justice Trivedi observed. Justice Surya Kant observed that the timing of the addition of 146 seats after Round 2 has created confusions.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for some of the petitioners, submitted that the situation is forcing students to study a course which they don't desire and that they are stuck in the course due to the threat of hefty penalty for opting out. Senior Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that anomalies were going to the root of the counselling process, entirely vitiating the same.

Advocate Shivendra Singh, appearing for some of the petitioners, pointed out that NEET was both an eligibility and an entrance test and stressed that the whole point of an entrance test is that persons higher in the merit list get priority. Allowing persons who are low in merit to steal a march over more meritorious students defeats the whole purpose of an entrance test.

ASG submitted that the seats were added in larger public interest and added that there was delay in inspection of colleges due to COVID. The ASG added that the scheme does not permit fresh registration after mop-up round and that after participation in round 2, there is no free exit.

"Nobody has challenged the scheme since it was announced in information bulletin. We have added146 seats which have been added for the first time after round 2. DNB were also added for the 1st time in NEET PG", the ASG submitted.

"We will give you time until tomorrow to set this right otherwise we'll intervene and give judgement", Justice Chandrachud told the ASG before proceeding to dictate the order.

The main petitions have been filed through Dubey Law Chambers and Advocate on Record Charu Mathur.

Case Title: Dr. Suraj Shete and others versus The Medical Counselling Committee and others, WP(C) 202 of 2022; Dr Vineet Vijendra Rathi v Medical Counselling Committee & Ors and Dr Anjana Chari SN v Medical Counselling Committee & Ors.





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