Centre revisiting the criteria to determine EWS: Solicitor General tells Supreme Court

  • Thyagarajan Narendran
  • 05:25 PM, 25 Nov 2021

Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, today told the Supreme Court that centre is revisiting the criteria to determine Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) for the purpose of reservation.

The SG told the bench of Justices Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath that the process may take 4 weeks.

The SG submitted this in the matter challenging 27 percent reservation to the Other Backward Class and 10% reservation to people belonging to EWS in post graduate medical admission. The SG further informed the court that a committee has been constituted to look into this.

The petitioners in the plea contended that the government in its notification of July 29 this year had not explained the rationale for fixing Rs. 8 lakhs  as the annual income to determine whether a person belongs to the EWS category. The petitioners further contended that the while the NEET (PG) examination was supposed to be conducted in April 2021 it was postponed due to the 2nd wave of COVID-19. However, the government introduced the reservation in July there by ‘changing the rule of the game in the middle.’

The SG further assured that the counselling for the courses will be kept on hold as assured to the court on previous occasion. The court however expressed that since it is almost the end of the year, the admission process should happen at the earliest. The SG assured the court that the a call will be taken in 4 weeks.

The court on hearing the parties adjourned the matter to 6th January 2022.

 

More insight into contention:

The plea reads,
"It will not be out of place to mention that it is paramount that the quality of doctors by nature of their duties is not sacrificed. It is pertinent to note that duty played by a professional doctor not only affect an individual rather affect the society at large. It is humbly submitted that pandemics like COVID-19, proves how essential is the role of a doctor and how the quality of medical professionals will impact the society"

The petition has been filed by Doctors who are also NEET PG aspirants on the ground that the said decision by the Government is against the binding dictum of law laid down by this Hon’ble Court in plethora of judgments.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appearing for the petitioners submitted that this is against the order of the Madras High Court which upheld the notification, to which Justice Chandrachud said that we'll issue notice on this.

The Madras High Court had earlier dropped contempt proceedings against the Central government in a petition filed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) alleging deliberate and willful violation of the High Court’s 2020 ruling on the issue of implementing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in All India Quota (AIQ) medical college seats for the academic year 2021-2022. The court observed that the 27% OBC reservation offered by the Centre in its Jul 29 notification was permissible, subject to the Supreme Court's formal approval of the same.

The petitioners have contended that the Respondents ignored the settled position of law which mandates 50% ceiling on reservation and that the Constitution Amendments fail to consider that Articles 14 and 16 form the basic feature of equality, and that they have been violated with the doing away of the restraints that were imposed on the reservation policy, i.e., the 50% ceiling limit.

Thus, the plea seek quashing of the impugned action taken by the Government of India, inter alia providing for reservation policy in 15% UG and 50% PG All India Quota seats (“AIQ”), wherein decision was taken to provide 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in AIQ scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses (MBBS/MD/MS/Diploma/BDS/MDS) from current academic year 2021-22 onwards.

The bench has also issued a notice in another PIL represented by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh seeking a stay on the reservation policy stating, "that the application of reservation in the current academic year is completely arbitrary and cannot be interdicted at this stage." 

"The selection process which has commenced for the current academic year cannot be disturbed," the plea added.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks while considering the submission made by Singh that this will have an impact on the NEET-PG examination.

Case title: Neil Aurelio Nunes Vs Union of India