What is the trouble over Assam’s medical seats?
At a time when MBBS and BDS admissions were almost complete, the state government scheduled counselling for fresh admissions Monday. Hundreds of students who had already taken admission and started attending classes, however, staged protests outside the medical education directorate, and counselling had to be called off.
Why hold fresh admission when the process was almost complete?
Because of a Gauhati High Court order, passed Friday, scrapping the government’s admission rules for 2017. The court asked the medical education directorate to cancel the earlier counselling and admission process and start it afresh as per 2015 rules.
What is different between the two sets of rules?
The 2017 rules had raised the number of seats under the OBC quota at the expense of the general category, as well as cutting down some central quota and Northeast quota seats. Going back to the 2015 rules would bring the number down again, making the future uncertain for OBC students already admitted to the additional seats.
How many seats?
Assam has 726 MBBS seats in six medical colleges and 40 BDS seats in one dental college. The new rules had added 71 seats (both courses combined) to the OBC quota, raising the number from 88 to 159. Of the 71 new seats, the largest chunk had been transferred from the general category (359 in 2015, 306 in 2017) while the rest had been transferred from the central quota and Northeast quotas.
Does the order disqualify everyone admitted?
Of the students who had already been admitted, a significant section can hope to be readmitted on the same merit that had earned them the seats in the first place. The restructure in the quota, however, leaves it unsure whether students will be readmitted to the same colleges, because some OBC candidates with higher scores — if they compete in the general category now — might push some general category students down the merit list.
What happens to the 71 OBC students who had been admitted to the seats added to the quota?
Not all of them will lose their seats. Some of them will still qualify for readmission under the 2015 rules, possibly in the general category. According to Assam medical education director Anup Kumar Barman, the court order would jeopardise the careers of 35 to 40 students. These students had already started attending classes for the past few weeks.
Why did Gauhati High Court scrap the new rules?
Following a petition by students who had not got seats during the initial counselling, the court said the state should abide by the 2015 admission rules this year because these had been in effect at the time CBSE had issued its notification for NEET, the nationwide entrance test, said Assam additional advocate general Devajit Saikia. The CBSE notification was issued on January 30; the new Assam government clearly notified its rules of 2017 only on July 11.
What is the government response?
Initially, the authorities cancelled the earlier admissions to these seats and issued a notification for fresh counselling and admission. But following the protests, the Assam DME said the entire fresh process, too, has been suspended. On Tuesday, the authorities moved a petition seeking a review of the order. “We have moved a review petition in the high court praying for directions in the best interest of all the candidates affected by the August 25 order,” DME Barman said.