Provide PG dental counselling schedule within a week: SC to govt
Upset over the government’s “dilly-dallying” over conducting counselling to fill 6,500 postgraduate dental seats, the entrance examination for which was held in December last year, the Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre a final week’s time to release the counselling schedule.
Dealing with a petition filed by nine students who qualified in the Master of Dental Surgery- National Eligibility Entrance Test (MDS-NEET) held on December 16, 2020, the top court told the government that by keeping the young dental doctors waiting, the country was suffering a big loss and the dental graduates were wasting a precious year of their career.
“These are qualified Bachelor for Dental Surgery (BDS) doctors. They will be wasting an entire year of their life if the counselling is not held. Imagine the loss caused to India as these doctors are not being allowed to join service of patients,” said a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hrishikesh Roy.
The court posted the matter for hearing next Monday and said, “We expect an expeditious decision to be taken and the court be informed on when the government intends to conduct counselling for MDS-NEET, results for which were announced on December 31. We hope the government of India is conscious of the consequences of the long delay in holding the counselling.”
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj appeared for the Centre before the court representing the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and said that the government was committed to holding counselling, but the delay was on account of a decision by Madras high court to grant reservation in postgraduate medical and dental admissions.
Nataraj informed the court that on July 27, 2020, the Madras high court directed the formation of a high-level committee to implement reservations for other backward classes (OBC) in state-surrendered seats under all-India quota for PG-NEET 2021 and MDS-NEET 2021. In October last year, the Supreme Court confirmed it could be done year. Pursuant to this, the government filed an application in the top court seeking clarification on implementing the reservations this year.
Not happy with the explanation, the bench remarked, “The government is just dilly-dallying over this issue. This judgment was in October 2020 and we are now in July 2021. This is a red herring that you are postulating before us. If you wanted to seek clarification, you had to do it immediately. You have to hold counselling immediately.”
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the petitioners, told the court that counselling can be held virtually and does not require physical presence of candidates. The petition by the nine MDS aspirants drafted by advocate Tanvi Dubey said that nearly 30,000 BDS doctors took the MDS-NEET examination for admission to 6,500 MDS seats. They even filed repeated pleas under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to know the reason for delay but got no clear response from either the Centre or the Medical Counselling Committee under the Directorate General of Health Services.
Having wasted six months of their career, the petitioners were left with no option but to move the top court. Once results are declared, counselling for MDS admissions begin by March every year, the petition stated. One of the RTI replies received from the government prior to filing of the petition stated that a “proposal for conducting separate counselling for the allotment of MDS seats is under consideration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and after consultation with the Dental Council of India, the final outcome shall be available on the official website of Medical Counselling Committee.”
On July 2, the top court issued a notice to the Medical Counselling Committee, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dental Council of India and National Board of Examinations seeking a response to the petition.