The Centre has instructed the supreme court that it has decided to just accept the recommendation of a 3-member panel to hold the present day gross annual own family profits limit for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of Rs eight lakh or less.
The government said that the panel has recommended that the circle of relative’s earnings is a “feasible criterion” for outlining EWS and inside the contemporary scenario, a threshold of Rs 8 lakh of annual family earnings appears affordable for regulating EWS.
In its affidavit filed in a matter that is related to admissions for NEET-PG, the Centre stated that the panel has suggested that “only those families whose annual income is up to Rs 8 lakh would be eligible to get the benefit of EWS reservation”.
“I respectfully submit that the central government has decided to accept the recommendations of the committee, including the recommendation of applying the new criteria prospectively,”, R Subrahmanyam who is the Secretary of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, who filed the affidavit on behalf of the Centre stated the top court.
The Centre had constituted the 3-member committee, consisting of Ajay Bhushan Pandey who is the former finance secretary, VK Malhotra who is the member secretary of ICSSR, and Sanjeev Sanyal who is the Principal Economic Adviser to Centre, on 30th November last year according to an assurance given to the top court to revisit the criteria for determining EWS.
The committee in its report given on 31st December last year to the Centre stated, “The current gross annual family income limit for EWS of Rs 8 lakh or less may be retained. In other words, only those families whose annual income is up to Rs 8 lakh would be eligible to get the benefit of EWS reservation.”
The selection of the committee was eventually not on time the NEET-PG 2021 counselling, which had caused a wide-scale protest by way of a huge number of resident medical doctors under the banner of the Federation of Resident medical doctors’ affiliation (FORDA) in Delhi and other parts of the nation. They were looking for expeditious elimination of criminal impediments.
FORDA had talked about that because of a delay of eight months in counselling of the NEET-PG 2021 batch, there was an “acute scarcity” of resident docs across the nation.
Meanwhile, the three-member panel in its report stated, “The current limit of annual family income of Rs 8 lakhs does not seem to be over-inclusive as the available data on actual outcomes does not indicate over inclusion. It should be noted that income includes salary and agriculture as well.”
The panel suggested, “EWS may however exclude, irrespective of income, a person whose family has five acres of agricultural land and above. The residential asset criteria may altogether be removed.”
The panel stated it determined that the existing standards (the standards applicable before this file) are in use when you consider that 2019 and the query of the desirability of the present criteria and the opportunity of its being revisited arose handiest these days in the batch of petitions related to admissions in NEET-PG.
“By the time this court started examining the said question and the central government decided to revisit the criteria by appointing this committee, the process with respect to some appointments/admissions have taken place or must have been at an irreversible and advanced stage,” it stated.
“The existing system which is going on since 2019, if disturbed at the end or fag-end of the process would create more complications than expected both for the beneficiaries as well as for the authorities,” the panel stated.
“Under these circumstances, it is completely unadvisable and impractical to apply the new criteria (which are being recommended in this report) and change the goal post in the midst of the ongoing processes resulting in inevitable delay and avoidable complications. When the existing system is ongoing since 2019, no serious prejudice would be caused if it continues for this year as well,” the panel suggested.
“The committee, therefore, after analysing the pros and cons on this issue and after giving serious consideration, recommends that the existing and ongoing criteria in every ongoing process where EWS reservation is available, be continued and the criteria recommended in this report may be made applicable from next advertisement/admission cycle,” it stated.
The panel suggested that data exchange and information technology must be used more actively to examine income and assets and a 3-year feedback loop cycle can be used to check the actual outcomes of these criteria and then be used to adjust them in future.
On 25th November, the Centre had said to the top court that it has decided to revisit Rs 8 lakh annual income criteria for checking EWS for reservation in admissions and jobs, and the counselling for the NEET postgraduate medical courses will be postponed further by 4 weeks.