During the hearing on Jan 5, the government pleaded to keep the EWS limit to avail of the reservation as Rs 8 lakh, however, the petitioner argued the rationale of keeping the limit. They said that the EWS limit was arrived at without proper study. A three-member panel set up by the government had argued that most of the candidates who availed of the EWS quota were under the salary bracket of Rs 5 lakh (family income). This data was collated from UPSC and JEE exams.
The SC will consider the feasibility of having Rs 8 lakh as criteria to offer EWS quota in medical college admissions today. The NEET counselling which was to begin in October has been put on hold till a final decision is arrived at for the newly introduced quota.
SC took up the matter after the Centre had appealed for an urgent hearing. The bench composition for the case was changed on January 5. The delay is leading to online protests by doctors and medical aspirants. Earlier, Union Health Minister had assured protesting doctors to end their strike by saying that counselling process will begin by January 6.
After a delay in the counselling was met by large-scale protests by resident doctors of various hospitals under the banner of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA).
In its affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre has said it has decided to accept the recommendations of a three-member panel to retain the current gross annual family income limit for defining Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at Rs 8 lakh or less.
The government has also told the court that according to the panel, family income is a “feasible criterion” for defining EWS, and in the current situation, a threshold of Rs 8 lakh of annual family income seems reasonable for determining EWS. In its affidavit filed in a matter related to admissions for NEET-PG, the Centre has said the panel has recommended that “only those families whose annual income is up to Rs 8 lakh would be eligible to get the benefit of the EWS reservation”.