NEET-PG-21 counselling: Education and people’s health can’t be compromised, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said there has to be a limit to the stray round of counselling for All India Quota in NEET-PG-21 and the students cannot be given admission by compromising the education and the health of people.
The observation was made by a vacation bench of Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose which reserved its order for Friday on a batch of petitions seeking a special stray round of counselling to fill the 1,456 seats in NEET-PG-21 that have remained vacant after the conduct of a stray round of counselling for All India Quota.
“Special stray rounds, special stray rounds- there must be a limit. For many years, the seats have remained vacant and it is not for the very first time.
“There must be a limit to the entire exercise. Merely because some seats have been left vacant after 8-9 rounds of counselling can you say you will be given admission after one-and-half years in a three-year course compromising with the education and the health of people? Try to appreciate this is a three-year course,” the bench observed while concluding the hearing.
When the hearing commenced, the apex court asked Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, appearing for the Centre, not to treat the petitions as adversarial litigation.
“Don’t treat and consider it as an adversarial litigation and don’t stand on the technicalities. It is a question of 1,400 medical seats. They are post-graduate (PG) seats. Government wants doctors also. Government wants doctors with PG also. Government wants super speciality doctors also. We have a dearth of doctors… They can serve the nation. And these 1,400 seats cannot be said to be a small number of seats,” the bench said.
This observation of the top court came while perusing the affidavit filed by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) informing that it has concluded four rounds of online counselling for NEET-PG-21 and it cannot fill 1,456 seats by conducting a special stray round of counselling as the software stands closed.
The bench said the centre cannot take a technical ground and say that since the website is closed nothing can be done.
“We are not only concerned with the students. We are concerned with the nation as a whole. When the nation, our country is getting 1,400 super-specialist doctors, then it will be in the larger public interest also. Suppose these posts are unfilled, how will the medical council or the government will be benefitted? You tell us,” the bench said,
“Instead of fighting, you try to find a solution and a way. How it can be cured and this problem can be solved,” the bench observed.
The ASG submitted that this is an annual phenomenon, and seats in this segment are mostly non-clinical and nobody applies.
In 2021, out of the said 1,456 vacant seats, 800/900 seats were opted for but the students did not take admission.
The ASG submitted that classes have already started in February and now holding classes for another six to eight months is not feasible.
He said the NEET 2022 teaching will also be compromised if further rounds of counselling are conducted.
Advocate Gaurav Sharma, appearing for National Medical Council, informed the court that counseling for NEET-PG 2021 was closed after nine rounds of counselling.
He said this problem crops up every year and this situation was also considered in 2019.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) informed the top court on Wednesday that it has concluded four rounds of online counselling for NEET-PG-21 and it cannot fill 1,456 seats by conducting a special stray round of counselling as the software stands closed.
The DGHS said the prayer of the petitioners for a special stray round of counselling is at a belated stage, as it will disrupt the whole process for the upcoming counselling session for NEET-PG-22 as the counselling for two academic sessions cannot run concurrently.
On Wednesday, the apex court had pulled up Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) for leaving more than 1450 seats vacant in NEET-PG-21, saying it will not only put the aspirants in difficulty but would also lead to a dearth of doctors.
The batch of petitions has been filed by doctors who appeared in NEET-PG 2021-22 examination and participated in Rounds 1 and 2 of the All India Quota (AIQ) Counselling and State Quota Counselling which was followed by All India Mop-Up and State Mop-Up Rounds and concluded on May 7 by Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) post the All India Stray Vacancy Round.
One of the petitions filed by Dr. Astha Goel and others through advocate Tanvi Dubey said on April 18, vide a notification, the MCC declared that there existed 323 vacant seats in UG Counselling, and in order to make sure that these precious seats do not go to waste, they would be conducting a Special Stray Round for the same.
The plea said it is pertinent to mention here that this is a practice that has been followed by the MCC previously wherein Special Stray Rounds for UG and PG have been conducted in order to ensure that seats don’t go vacant. However, this wasn’t followed this year. PTI

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