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NEET-PG 2021 : Supreme Court Dismisses Plea To Reduce Cut-Off Percentile; Says 'Not The Role Of The Court'

Sohini Chowdhury
25 March 2022 10:42 AM GMT
NEET-PG 2021 : Supreme Court Dismisses Plea To Reduce Cut-Off Percentile; Says Not The Role Of The Court
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The Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed a plea seeking directions to lower the minimum marks required for admission to NEET-PG 2021 across categories beyond the reduction already notified on 12.03.2022 by National Board of Examination (NBE). By way of the said notification, the Union Government had reduce the minimum qualifying percentile for the General Category from 50th percentile...

The Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed a plea seeking directions to lower the minimum marks required for admission to NEET-PG 2021 across categories beyond the reduction already notified on 12.03.2022 by National Board of Examination (NBE).

By way of the said notification, the Union Government had reduce the minimum qualifying percentile for the General Category from 50th percentile to 35th Percentile, for SC/ST/OBC from 40th Percentile to 25th Percentile and for UR-PWD from 45th percentile to 30th percentile.

A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai noted that the Government of India had already exercised its discretion and reduced the percentile as notified on 12.03.2022. Considering that the petitioner cannot seek reduction in the minimum qualifying percentile as a matter of right, the Bench thought it fit to dismiss the petition.

Senior Advocate, Mr. Nikhil Nayyar appearing on behalf of the petitioner apprised the Bench -

"We have challenged the fixation of percentile."

Perturbed, Justice Rao observed -

"There should be a limit to filing such Writ Petitions. The Govt. has reduced 15%, now the Supreme Court will reduce it by 50%?. What is our role in all this? We keep running the educational institutions, we keep running the regulatory bodies. What is this?"

Mr. Nayyar submitted that he sought the permission of the Court to merely point out whether the Union Government had exercised its discretion in a reasonable manner.

"I am not asking your lordships to fix the percentile. I can only point out whether the discretion has been reasonably exercised or not."

Justice Rao, enquired -

"Do you have a right for reduction?"

Mr. Nayyar responded in the negative -

"No, milords. Kindly see the proviso."

Referring to Regulation 9(3) of the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulation of 2000, which grants discretionary power to the Union Government to lower the minimum marks required for admission to Post Graduate Course, in consultation with the National Medical Commission (erstwhile Medical Council of India), Justice Rao stated -

"It is the discretion of the Government of India. They have reduced it by 15%. You say reduce it further. Someone will come and say reduce it even further. The role of the Court should not be misused by filing such writ petitions."

Mr. Nayyar took the Court's attention to two crucial aspects -

"I just want to point out two factors -

  1. Being a COVID year we were asked to attend to COVID duty; for 4 months the exam was postponed; all doctors were requisitioned and asked to perform COVID duties. There was some disruption in the academic rigour.
  2. On the date of filing of this petition there were over 6000 vacancies."

Justice Rao pointed out that the issues pertaining to vacancies are meant to be taken care of by the reduction already permitted by the Central Government on 12.03.2022.

Relying on the reduction of the minimum qualifying percentile for the General category from 50th percentile to 30th percentile vide notification dated 14.07.2020, the petitioners argued that the fixation of reduced cut off marks across categories ought to have been more to accommodate the mitigating and extenuating circumstances that were unique to the candidates who had appeared in NEET-PG 2021.

The notification dated 12.03.2022 was also assailed for not disclosing the reasons for the departure from the reduction formula adopted in 2020. It was contended that the Central Government's decision to lower minimum marks as per the proviso to Regulation 9(3) of PGME Regulations must have a rational nexus with the total number of seats likely to remain vacant.

It may be noted that the Delhi High Court is hearing a petition seeking change to percentage system from percentile system for NEET cut-off.

[Case Title: Sushil Badgaiya v. Union of India W.P. (C) No. 190 of 2022]

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