NEW DELHI: As per the details released this morning, the government filed an affidavit on Friday telling the Supreme Court that the existing criteria for identifying Economically Weaker Section (EWS) reservation beneficiaries for admissions in medical courses across the country will remain unchanged for this academic year.
Modifying rules at this time, when admissions and college allocation for NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test) students are still underway, could result in numerous complications. The revisions to the EWS norm can be applied the following year, said the government.
As per the revised EWS norm, the current annual family income limit for the EWS quota of Rs. 8 lakhs will remain. The resident asset criteria is to be removed, and families with more than five acres of agricultural land, regardless of their annual income, will not be eligible for the EWS quota.
The affidavit was filed in response to a court order asking why the government chose an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh to identify possible EWS recipients among the all-India quota, which is the same criteria used to designate the “creamy layer” among OBCs.
The government had previously stated that the Rs 8 lakh yearly income threshold was in accordance with Articles 14, 15, and 16 of the Constitution. A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud, however, was not convinced. “You’ll need some demographic or socioeconomic information. You can’t just make up the number 8 million out of thin air” said, Justice Chanrachud.
The fight over the EWS quota has had such an effect on NEET admissions that junior doctors in the national capital organised a 14-day strike last week to protest the delays.
Doctors accused the government of dragging its feet on the matter and warned of dire ramifications for the country’s healthcare system, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, after Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya agreed to send the expert committee’s EWS norms revision report to the Supreme Court, the protest was called off.