Medical students are protesting against the Maharashtra government’s decision to pass an ordinance to implement the 16 per cent quota for Social and Educationally Backward Caste (SEBC) for post-graduate medical seats, claiming the decision not only goes against the Supreme Court’s order but also hampers admission procedure for thousands of students.
MBBS graduate Shraddha Subramanian, who wants to pursue psychiatry, said if 16 per cent reservation quota is implemented for SEBC and 10 per cent Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), there will be only three seats left for open category students for psychiatry branch. There are 14 seats for psychiatry in state.
“Despite getting better ranks, most students like me are hanging in between. Where should we go and appeal if court orders are not getting implemented by Maharashtra government?” Subramanian said.
Across Maharashtra, there are 972 PG seats, those from Maratha community will get 156 seats reserved, including eight seats for differently abled students. The reservation for EWS is 97, including five for differently abled. There are 233 seats left for students in open category.
On May 2, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court held that the application of SEBC reservations would be illegal, observing that reservation came into force after admission procedure had begun. On May 9, the Supreme Court upheld the HC’s decision directing Maharashtra government to issue fresh list of seat matrix.
On May 16, however, the state government got the clearance from the Election Commission to issue ordinance to go ahead with reservations in a bid to circumvent the apex court’s order.
Dr Aparna Ranadive, whose son Angad filed the petition in High Court challenging the SEBC reservation, said, “Already one round of list for admissions has been scrapped. The admission process has been delayed. State government assured it will add 144 additional seats, but has not acted upon it.”
Across India, medical admission procedures are slated to end by May 25. Maharashtra is already nearing its deadline. While the state government decision has brought cheer to Maratha students who have been protesting since a week against court ruling, thousands of medical students claim they stand a chance to lose a medical seat to another student with a much poorer NEET score.
Sonam Turkar, who scored 10,000 rank in All India NEET, said students under Maratha quota with 36,000 rank may get through a prestigious college like KEM, but she may lose out. “The admissions are being conducted unfairly. We prepared for exams keeping in mind a certain rank to get through top colleges. The reservations were announced after the exams,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sudha Shenoy, parent of a PG aspirant and also the lead convenor of the UG and PG Medical Students, along with parents of #MurderofMerit team in Mumbai, said they were planning a peaceful protest on Saturday against the decision in Mumbai.
“We have been fighting for two months now for students in the open category,” she said, while urging students and parents from across the state to join in their protest.
Dr Avinash Chaudhari — nephrologist at Amravati, who has lent his support to the agitation — told The Indian Express that most students who contacted him want to leave the country and pursue studies abroad. “It takes years of patients, hard work and dedication to study and get the meritorious seat in prestigious institutions. Why take it away from the open category student?” Chaudhari said.
Another parent Sheetal Navander, whose son has appeared for the NEET 2019 and is an aspirant for admission to first year MBBS, is now worried that the same SEBC quota will also be applicable to undergraduate medical admissions. “The number of seats in government medical colleges is limited. Our wards work so hard and to deny them seats in prestigious institutions is unfair,” she said.
(With inputs from Anuradha Mascarenhas)