* A girl with 14371 All India Rank (AIR) in NEET-UG 2019 and 981 Bihar rank, got through to the state’s best college – Patna Medical College, in the ‘mop-up’ round of counselling. She was not allotted any college in the first and second rounds. The seat allotment is made as per Bihar rank. Her ranking was below the cut-off for the lowest-ranked Betiah Medical College in the second round, which was 954 in the open category. In the mop-up round though, the cut-off state rank for an MBBS seat was 1224.
* A boy, with 6871 AIR and 405 (Unreserved) Bihar rank, had to settle for the third-best college in the state — Nalanda Medical College.
Bihar has 972 medical seats. At the start of the mop-up round which follows two rounds of counselling, a total of 183 seats or almost 20% were vacant. Of this, 131 were for the unreserved candidates. This suggests that at least 100 candidates had to be content with admission in dental colleges for Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) courses, who could have got MBBS seats were they allowed to take part in the mop-up round of counselling.
Students in Bihar find themselves in such a piquant situation because of a rule that bars those already admitted to any college after the second round of counselling from attending the mop-up round. Though Patna Medical College and the second-best Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences had six and nine seats, respectively after the second round, the boy with 405 Bihar rank could not apply for these.
Students now complain that this “non-transparent” counselling by Bihar Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board (BCECEB) has forced at least 125 candidates with better state ranks to remain content with colleges they were allotted in the first two rounds. They have been “debarred” from taking part in mop-up (final) round of counselling where there was every possibility of a college upgrade.
All 183 seats, vacant after two rounds, were filled during the mop up round. This meant lower-ranked students are now ahead of those who have already sought admission after the second round and were not allowed to take part in the mop-up round.
Several states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal allow all students – even those who have been allotted seats after the second round of counselling — to attend the mop-up round. Bihar, however, takes recourse to a 2017 Supreme Court and a 2018 state government order to bar admitted students from the mop-up round.
The 2017 Supreme Court order, in the Dar-Us-Salam Educational Trust and others versus Medical Council of India and Others case, stated: “After the second round of counselling for All India Quota seats, the students who take admission in All India Quota seats, would not be allowed/ permitted to vacate the seats.. This would ensure that very few seats are reverted to the state quota and also All India Quota seats are filled by all India merit list only”.
The order concludes saying: “Needless to say this arrangement will not apply to states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir. As far as other states are concerned, this arrangement shall apply to all the colleges.”
Though the SC order talks about the All India Quota seats and not state quota seats anywhere, Bihar has made this the basis for not allowing those already admitted to take part in the mop up round. But most states have interpreted the same order differently and allowed all candidates to attend the mop-up round of counselling opening possibilities of college upgrade.
In Rajasthan, the state government’s previous decision of not allowing students to attend mop-up round was successfully challenged. This year, the state government had to allow even admitted students to attend the mop-up round with possibilities of upward movement or upgradation.
The Bihar government, conducting mop-up rounds since 2017, says the aggrieved can take legal recourse. When contacted, BCECE Controller of Examination Arvind Choudhary, said: “We are going by the Supreme Court order and a 2018 state government order. The aggrieved is free to take the legal route.”
Several aggrieved students, who spoke to The Indian Express, sought to know the “consideration” of allowing low rankers to get admitted in better colleges and leaving more deserving ones “agonised and frustrated” with their admission in lower-ranked colleges.
A Defence Ministry employee, Vinay Mishra, whose brother Himanshu Mishra had to settle with admission in NMCH, alleged “rampant illegal practice and possible huge corruption” in the entire counselling process.
He has complained to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, state Governor Phagu Chouhan, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar and Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar on August 31. His letter to the CM was forwarded to the Health Secretary.
Mishra told The Indian Express: “Medical students are afraid of coming forward for fear of being penalised. I decided to take up the matter not just for my brother but in the larger interest of students. Had there been just 5-10 seats vacant before the mop-up round, we would not have questioned non-permission for those already admitted. But if 131 seats out of a total of 900-odd in Bihar government colleges, remained vacant after two rounds of counselling, justice and fair play demands all should have been given equal opportunity.”
Asked about a candidate with 981 state rank getting the best college, BCECE’s Choudhary said it did look “irrational” but legal options are available to the aggrieved. When contacted, Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar said: “We are having a look at it.”
B Srinivas, Assistant Director General Medical Education, Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told The Indian Express: “Mop-up means residual or leftover. In Bihar, 183 vacant seats before mop-up round is a huge number. There is a need to have a relook at the SC order and its interpretation. The percentage of mop-up has to be decided. If very low rankers get the best colleges, there will be a clamour. The idea of mop-up was to give others a chance but no cap was fixed for the mop-up cap round. In principle, Bihar looks to follow rules but it is just the big number of available seats that demands revisiting the system of counselling.