More than two months after the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) were declared, Punjab is yet to begin its first counselling for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in its medical colleges. This, even as classes have started at the medical colleges in other states. In Punjab, the first counselling used to be conducted in the first week of July. The delay this year is being attributed to a legal dispute over reservation of seats in management quota.
A group of students had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking micro reservation in management quota of private medical colleges and an increase in sports quota. In its verdict on July 26, the high court held that micro reservation of 1% in MBBS and BDS courses for children/grandchildren of terror-affected persons, anti-sikh riots-affected persons would be applicable to both the state quota and the management quota in all private and unaided non-minority medical or dental institutions. The HC also held that under the sports quota, the reservation in government colleges will be 3% and not 1% as notified by the government.
Prior to that, the Punjab government had informed the HC that it has decided to extend the reservation for sportspersons and children or grandchildren of Sikh riot victims under the state quota in private medical colleges for the MBBS course. “These micro reservations already exist in government medical colleges and the government, as per its amended notification of July 11, 2019, has extended the same now to the government quota of 50% to private colleges also,” Advocate General Atul Nandu had submitted before the HC.
However, on August 9, the Punjab government filed a special leave petition in Supreme Court challenging the HC order. In Punjab, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) conducts the counselling for admissions to the medical and dental colleges. The 7 MBBS and 14 BDS colleges offer more than 2000 seats. Out of this, 15 per cent seats are filled via medical counselling committee (MCC), Government of India. Punjab has three government medical colleges – in Faridkot, Patiala and Amritsar – where, as per information, nearly 10 per cent of the MCC quota seats have been filled while the third counselling of the MCC will be held on August 13.
For filling the other seats, the BFUHS had asked the students to give their preference by June 25, which was later extended to July 5. It was announced that the result of the first counselling will be declared on July 8, but four days before that, a fresh schedule was released. The dates, changed a couple of times before the students were informed that counselling has been put on hold till further orders.
The students, meanwhile, have been left in a lurch. Several of them have refused to seek admissions in medical colleges outside Punjab.
Jitendra Kumar, a Barnala-based advocate told The Sunday Express that his son was now unsure of his future. “He had taken admission in the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Institute, Mohali. Later, after clearing NEET, he withdrew his name from the Mohali institute hoping to get admitted to one of the medical colleges. While classes have already begun in the neighbouring states, Punjab is yet to conduct its first round of counselling,” he said.
Dr Kamal Baghi, president of Punjab Private Medical and Dental College Association, said, “I request BFUHS to start the counselling at the earliest as the delay will only harm the students”. State Medical Education and Research Minister OP Soni could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.