Rules for economically weaker sections of quota system to change next year: Centre

Economically Weaker

The government told the Supreme Court in an affidavit filed Friday that existing criteria for identifying EWS (Economically Weaker Section) reservation beneficiaries for admission to medical courses across the country will be retained for this academic year, according to details released this morning.

According to the government, changing norms at this time, when admissions and college allocation for NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test) students are still underway, will cause complications.

According to the government, EWS norm revisions will take effect in the following academic year.

Families with agricultural land of five acres or more, regardless of income, are excluded from the revised EWS criteria, which keeps the contentious annual income ceiling of ₹ 8 lakh.

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 potential EWS beneficiaries among the all-India quota, which is the same standard used to determine the ‘creamy layer’ among OBCs.

The government’s Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta said at the last hearing in November that existing income criteria would be revisited and a decision made within four weeks.

The government had previously claimed that the 8 lakh annual 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 “According to Justice Chandrachud.

The court was also interested in learning how the criteria could be applied throughout India. “How can a person’s earnings in a small town or village be compared to those in a metropolis?” it wondered.

The row over the EWS quota has had a significant impact on NEET admissions, to the point where junior doctors in the national capital staged a 14-day strike last week to protest the delays.

Doctors accused the government of dragging its feet on this issue and warned of dire consequences for the country’s healthcare system, especially in light of the Covid pandemic.

After Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya agreed to submit the expert committee’s EWS norms revision report to the Supreme Court, the protest was called off.

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