The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Wednesday a plea related to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in NEET-PG admissions, after the Centre sought urgent hearing in the matter.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, that the matter pertains to admissions to post-graduate medical courses and that students have been facing difficulties.
"It concerns EWS of the society. There's a statement made by us which prevents further counselling of resident doctors," the law officer submitted, seeking urgent hearing of the matter. "Resident doctors are protesting and their concerns are genuine."
The CJI said, "The problem is it is a three-judge bench matter, this entire week is a miscellaneous week. Let me see if tomorrow, some judge is available, we will constitute a bench. Let me see. If possible, I will constitute a three-judge bench or it will go before a Division bench tomorrow."
The CJI said the first week after the winter vacation is the miscellaneous week and hence, no three judge bench was available except the one led by him.
On Monday, a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had told the Centre that a bench of requisite strength can be set up by the CJI as the EWS quota matter is being heard by a three-judge bench.
The Centre, through the Solicitor General, had mentioned the matter for urgent hearing on Monday as well.
"The moment today's work gets over, I would make a request to CJI NV Ramana for the listing of the case," Justice Chandrachud had said.
Large-scale protests have been held by resident doctors of various hospitals under the banner of the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) in Delhi and other parts of the country over a delay in the NEET-PG counselling, which has been postponed due to the Centre deciding to revisit the criteria for the determination of the EWS quota.
In its affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre has said it has decided to accept the recommendations of a three-member panel to retain the current gross annual family income limit for defining Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at Rs 8 lakh or less.
The government has also told the court that according to the panel, family income is a "feasible criterion" for defining EWS, and in the current situation a threshold of Rs 8 lakh of annual family income seems reasonable for determining EWS.
In its affidavit filed in a matter related to admissions for NEET-PG, the Centre has said the panel has recommended that "only those families whose annual income is up to Rs 8 lakh would be eligible to get the benefit of the EWS reservation".