The Supreme Court Wednesday pulled up Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) for leaving more than 1,450 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 apex court gave 24-hours to the Centre and the MCC to file an affidavit indicating the position of total seats which have remained vacant and the reasons as to why they were not filled up by the candidates.
It directed the counsel appearing for the Centre and MCC to file the affidavit during the course of the day and posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday. A vacation bench of Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a special stray round of counselling to fill the 1456 seats which have remained vacant after the conduct of a stray round of counselling in All India Quota.
During the hearing, the bench said, “Even if there is a single vacant seat it should not have gone unfilled. It’s the duty of the Medical Council to see that these seats do not remain vacant. After every round of counselling, this is the same problem. Why cannot the process be streamlined? What do we get by leaving the seats vacant when we are in need of doctors? This will not only create problems for the aspirants but would also encourage corruption”.
It told the counsel appearing for the Centre and the MCC that why can’t there be a stress-less education system, where everything is streamlined. “Do you even know the stress level of the students and their parents? Why during the midst of the counselling, you have been adding the seats. There is already a judgement of this court in this regard. There must be a cut-off date for the number of seats and how many admissions will be given”, the bench said.
The bench said that if the students are not given admission, it may pass the order in the matter and direct compensation to the candidates, who have been denied admission. The bench then asked the counsel as to who is in charge of the admissions to which he replied that it is the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS).
“Ask DGHS to remain in the court on Thursday”, the bench orally observed, adding that some responsibility needs to be fixed. It said, “It is the future of the students which is at stake here. First, you have to study hard and then you have to give the examination. Even if you get 99 per cent marks in the examination, there is an admission problem. Then there is the super speciality problem. Do you even understand the situation of the students”.
When the counsel said that he is being led by Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh who is in some personal difficulty and sought adjournment of the matter, the bench said these are very serious matters related to the rights of the medical students and said that the Union of India is not represented by only one ASG. The bench asked the counsel to file the affidavit during the course of the day and circulate it to the petitioners and posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday.
The batch of petitions has been filed by doctors who have appeared in NEET-PG 2021-22 examination and have participated in Rounds 1 and 2 of All India Quota (AIQ) Counselling and State Quota Counselling which was followed by All India Mop-Up and State Mop-Up Rounds and was concluded on May 7, 2022, 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, 2022, vide a notification, 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 that it is pertinent to mention here that this is a practice that has been followed by 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.
The petition claimed that in other examinations like INICET, a special stray round counselling has been conducted to ensure that there is no wastage of seats. “It is pertinent to note that occupying remaining seats (on the basis of merit) works in the interest of both the college as well as candidates. While the college would refrain from incurring heavy losses in each vacant seat, the candidates will also lose a seat, which they are otherwise deserving of”, it said.