New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Thursday it is “troubling” that 454 seats in medical courses have remained vacant because the open round of INI-CET counselling has stopped.
The Institute of National Importance Combined Entrance Test (INI-CET) is for admission to the Post Graduate (PG) courses of certain All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and some other medical institutions.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka observed this while hearing a petition which said INI-CET is conducted by AIIMS, New Delhi, and a notice was issued by the premier medical institute on September 19 this year conveying its decision to cancel the open round for INI-CET July 2022 session.
“What is troubling us is that stopping of the open round has resulted in 454 seats being vacant,” the bench orally observed, adding, “we do feel that seats should not go vacant”.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the AIIMS said the process of admission through INI-CET was closed on August 31, 2022.
It said three of the five petitioners were allocated and offered seats in the second round of counselling.
The affidavit said these three petitioners had taken a “calculated risk” and opted to not take those seats after second round of counselling and persist in looking for other opportunities despite being expected to fill choices for the subjects or disciplines that they genuinely wished to pursue.
“It is humbly submitted that the petitioners, having faced the repercussions of their own poor decision making, cannot now claim an additional round of INI-CET counselling as a matter of right, thereby disrupting the overall process of admissions and negatively impacting patient care activities as a result of the special treatment sought to be meted out to the petitioners,” it said.
The plea has sought directions to the Centre and others, including AIIMS, to organise the remaining rounds of INI-CET counselling without any further delay.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan along with lawyer Tanvi Dubey appeared for the petitioners, including three who have completed MBBS.
The affidavit filed by AIIMS said the petitioners have “sought to mislead” the court by drawing a parallel between INI-CET and NEET examination.
It said the next INI-CET took place on November 13, 2022 and the results are scheduled for November 19.
The affidavit said any further rounds of counselling shall not only disturb the results of examination held on November 13, but will also lead to a situation whereby seats already allocated shall have to be thrown open to students who have already joined the course of their choice.
“Such a situation will lead to doctors resigning from departments already assigned to them and the same will have adverse impact on the overall patient care throughout the participating institutions across India,” it said.
The affidavit said based on the available data as of August 31 this year, out of total 918 vacancies available before the seat allocation, all 918 came to be filled after first round of counselling.
It said the total number of candidates who reported after first round of counselling was 377, out of which 184 had confirmed the allocated seat and joined while the remaining 193 opted to take a chance to secure a better course or institute in the second round of counselling.
The affidavit said a total of 541 vacancies were reported for the second round of counselling and considering the seats of candidates who opted for upgrade in the second round, total 734 seats were allocated but only 280 candidates reported and joined the courses.
The affidavit said the AIIMS, anticipating the fact that further vacancies are likely to arise, had preferred an application before the court seeking permission for extension of time from August 31 to October 31, 2022.
It said the apex court, after taking an overall view of the matter, was pleased to dismiss the application on September 16.
Terming the plea as “not maintainable”, the affidavit said two of the five petitioners had not participated in INI-CET and have no locus to file the petition.
After hearing the submissions, the apex court said the matter is required to be placed before the same bench which had passed the order earlier, subject to order of the Chief Justice of India.
The plea said the September 19 notice came as a “surprise” to several candidates who were expecting seats in one of the premier institutes including AIIMS and JIPMER through the open and on-spot round of counselling in INI-CET exam.
The INI-CET is a bi-annual computer-based test for admission. PTI