New Delhi: Resident doctors across the country were overjoyed Friday as the Supreme Court upheld existing reservations for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) post-graduate and undergraduate 2021-2022 admissions, but said they wished the verdict had come two months earlier.
The order paved the way for counselling of prospective candidates for medical courses — which had been suspended ever since the matter went to court in August last year — to resume with 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBC) and 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker sections (EWS).
The apex court accepted the recommendations of the Ajay Bhushan Pandey Committee — a panel formed by the Centre to review reservation for the EWS category — which had stated that for 2021 admissions, a previous notice issued by the Medical Counseling Committee (MCC) on 29 July, 2021, providing 27 per cent reservation for for OBCs and 10 per cent for EWS category, be upheld.
The EWS quota implementation will happen as is this year. However, the issue will be further discussed in court in March.
Doctors across the country had protested against the delay in NEET PG counselling, claiming that hospitals were understaffed. In Delhi, several resident doctors had come onto the streets in protest, which had in one instance also led to a violent confrontation with the police.
“We are thankful to the Supreme Court for showing urgency and taking quick decisions. The third wave is here and this could not have been timed any better. However, this decision could have been taken two months ago. The entire process of review was unnecessary and time-consuming,” Dr Harjit Bhatti, national president, Progressive Medicos & Scientists Forum (PMSF), told ThePrint.
The NEET PG results were issued on 28 September 2021. Doctors said that had the verdict come earlier, the admission process would not have been disrupted.
“We would now like to see quick implementation and recruitment of doctors,” said Dr Bhatti.
The Resident Doctors’ Association of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and AIIMS in a joint press release thanked the apex court for its decision.
“It gives us immense pleasure and satisfaction to thank the apex court, Honourable Minister for Health and Family Affairs Mansukh Mandaviya, honourable ADG (medical education) who helped the resident doctors and showed sensitivity towards the issue of overburdened and exhausted resident doctors due to delayed NEET PG counseling and helping justice to be served on time,” it read.
Doctors at the Lady Hardinge Medical College called it a “historic day” and thanked the medical fraternity “for coming forward and standing in support of the agitation that spanned over a month”.
Dr Manish, president of the Federation of Resident Doctor’s Association (FORDA), which had spearheaded the protest against delay in NEET admissions in Delhi, said this move will bring around 42,000 doctors into the hospitals across the country.
“We wholeheartedly welcome the decision of the Supreme Court and would like to congratulate all the doctors for supporting our movement, and the government for listening to our demands. However we would have liked it better had the decision not been delayed for two months,” he added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)