The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its orders on petitions seeking one more round of counselling for NEET-PG All India Quota seats that have remained vacant after the last round on May 7. The Centre opposed the petitions, saying that nine rounds of counselling had already taken place and that a large chunk of vacancies were a consequence of candidates not taking up non-clinical seats.
Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, appearing for the Centre and the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC), told a Bench of Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose that seats remaining vacant was a “structural issue” as many candidates who opt for non-clinical, para-medical or teaching seats end up not taking admission.
There are also some seats remaining in private medical colleges where fees are very high, he said.
The court will pronounce its orders in the matter on Friday.
On Wednesday, the Bench had expressed concern about the 1,456 seats remaining vacant after the last round of counselling, and told the Centre, “We fail to understand what you will get by keeping the seat vacant when we are in need of doctors and super specialists.” The court had also sought to know why one more round of counselling could not be conducted.
On Thursday, ASG Singh said the vacant seats were those rejected by candidates, and one more round of counselling may not make any substantial difference.
Around 800 to 900 of the 1,456 vacant seats were opted for by the candidates, he said. “They locked those seats to say I’m opting for these, but never took admission in them. Consequently these seats again become vacant,” he said.
He said that the issue had earlier been raised before a Bench presided by Justice D Y Chandrachud and that a special mop up round was held for 146 PG seats that were added in between the counselling, he pointed out.
Appearing for the National Medical Commission (NMC), advocate Gaurav Sharma pointed out that till last year, candidates used to get two chances in All India Quota and two in state quota. “Now, this has been revised to four rounds each. So a candidate has option of eight chances to get seats in medical colleges. So as on date, nine rounds of counselling are already over” for the All India Quota seats, he added.
Advocate Rachna Sharma, appearing for some of the petitioners, said an RTI reply had revealed that many seats were vacant in subjects like surgery, anaesthesia and so on.
Justice Shah, however, remarked that the process could not continue indefinitely and that there has to be a limit.
“Special stray rounds, special special stray rounds — there must be a limit,” he said.
“After eight or nine rounds also the seats are vacant, but can it be said now that after 1.5 years, you will be given admission and compromise the health of people,” he asked.