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'Staying Counselling An Extreme Step' : Supreme Court Seeks DGHS Response In Doctors' Plea To Participate In Mop-Up Round Of NEET-PG Admissions

Shruti Kakkar
28 March 2022 10:57 AM GMT
Staying Counselling An Extreme Step : Supreme Court Seeks DGHS Response In Doctors Plea To Participate In Mop-Up Round Of NEET-PG Admissions
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The petitioners contended that candidates lower in merit were getting better courses allotted due to the restrictions in mop-up round participation.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Director General of Health Services ("DGHS") to file a comprehensive affidavit in the writ petitions preferred by a group of doctors seeking permission to participate in the Mop Up round of NEET PG 2021-2022.The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant was considering two sets of matters :-One group of petitions were preferred by the doctors who...

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Director General of Health Services ("DGHS") to file a comprehensive affidavit in the writ petitions preferred by a group of doctors seeking permission to participate in the Mop Up round of NEET PG 2021-2022.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant 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.

What Transpired In The Supreme Court Today?

When the matter was called for hearing, Advocate Shivendra Singh appearing for the petitioners challenging the impugned notice submitted that when the Counsel had mentioned the matter on March 24 for urgent listing, the Medical Counselling Committee had not declared the result of Mop Up Round counseling. 

Calling the impugned notice "illegal", counsel submitted that the same had changed the understanding of the candidates in the midst of the counseling. He further argued that MCC had itself failed to act on the notice since the candidates who had held seats in the state quota had also been granted seats in the All India Quota too.

"Matter was mentioned. At that time results were not declared but then at the same date the provisional and final results were declared. The notice is illegal as it has changed the understanding of the candidates in the midst of the counseling. MCC has not even acted upon the impugned notice. There have been candidates who have held the state quota and they have been granted seats in AIQ too. There has been confusion with regards to the counseling. Notice has infused the whole matter of counseling with confusion," submitted Counsel.

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioners seeking permission to participate in the Mop Up round drew Court's attention to the notices issued by DGHS bringing into pool the seats which were not available.

"After the 2nd round, after we have been allotted seats, DGHS issued 2 notices bringing into the pool seats which were not available. 100's of seats. People below the merit list were given seats which were not available. Many people who are well below us in the merit list have got seats," submitted Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan.

"If we cancel the seats, then we will have to cancel all the admissions. Who's for DGHS? Granting a stay on the process of counseling will be a very extreme step. We are dealing with medical students," remarked Justice DY Chandrachud, the presiding judge of the bench.

Senior Counsel further submitted that DGHS had to take a stand with regards to what they wanted to do. Senior Advocate Rakesh Khanna, appearing for another group of students, submitted that there was a trend of blocking of seats and that was the reason why there were over 6000 seats in mop-up rounds.

At this juncture, ASG Aishwarya Bhati for DGHS entered appearance and apprised the bench with regards to the figures of total persons who appeared. She further submitted that the results of Mop Up round had been declared.

She further contended that the whole purpose was this was to ensure that highly meritorious candidates do not hold seats and only fresh registrations are allowed. Ms. Bhati further submitted that "The whole purpose of this is for the reason that the candidates who are highly meritorious do not hold seats and thus only fresh registration are allowed in round 1 & 2 and round 3 and 4 are there to ensure that medical seats do not get waste", she submitted.

The bench at this juncture asked ASG if DGHS could file an affidavit by the evening. Remarking that 5888 seats had been filled, the bench posed a question to Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan as to how could it intervene now.

Answering the question posed by the bench, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, adding that the system had been "unfair" to the candidates, submitted that substantial penalties to the tune of Rs 5 lakh would be imposed on the candidates if they give up their seats. He further urged the bench to consider waiving of the security deposits made by the doctors.

"If we do that we'll have to do it for the students all over India," remarked Justice Chandrachud.

"I will be typed down to huge penalties over 3 years for a course which I do not want to do. Now when people who are much lower than me have got better discipline, I will be stuck with discipline in which I have no interest. Please allow me to walk up from the course in which I have no interest. Mop Up for 6000 seats was unprecedented. It is a matter of equal opportunity," added Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde appearing for another petitioner seeking permission to take part in Mop Up round.  

ASG Bhati urged the bench to not allow any fresh registrations in the stray round. She further submitted that if the petitioners are allowed to participate, the process would become neverending.

Advocate Shivendra Singh at this juncture submitted that the petitioners had audio recording of MCC helpline which stated the students could appear in the All India Counseling. 

He also drew Court's attention to the impugned notice dated March 16, 2022 as well as the FAQ's related to the eligibility and ineligibility of students who could appear in the Mop Up round. He also drew Court's attention to the order dated December 16, 2021 passed by the bench led by Justice LN Rao in Nihila PP v. The Medical Counseling Committee (MCC) & Ors., SLP (Civil) No. 10487 of 2021 ("Nihila PP order").Contrary to previous years where after the first two rounds of AIQ counselling, the vacant seats sed to be reverted to the State Quota, it was clarified in the Nihila PP order that there would be no reversion of unfilled All-India Quota seats to State Quota after the second round of AIQ Counselling.

"The entire logic of march 16 order suffers from a fatal flaw. MCC itself had put out notice on Dec 18 2021 informing candidates as to how counseling will take place. There is not even a single reference to state quota. Order of Dec 16, 2021 is absolutely silent on this aspect. Even for mop up round, an aspect of fresh registration was always known. The order dated Dec 16, 2021 doesn't deal with state quota at all," submitted Singh.

The bench at this juncture while asking DGHS to file its affidavit explaining its stand in the 2 petitions, adjourned the matter for March 30, 2022.

"You are pointing out the problems, point out some solution too", the bench told the petitioners towards the end.

Advocate Charu Mathur, appearing in one of the matters, submitted that the Government can adopt the method adopted in the case of AYUSH admissions. She submitted that the same Ministry of Health is allowing Ayush PG (MD/MS) doctors to participate in round 3 of their counselling by resigning their joined seats 3 days prior to the Mop Up.

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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