“What exercise has been done by Centre before arriving at the income limit of Rs. 8 lakh p.a. for EWS category in admission to PG Medical Courses through NEET?”: Justice D. Y. Chandrachud

A three-judge divisional bench of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice Vikram Bhat and Justice B. V. Nagaratha heard an appeal on October 7, 2021, to challenge the 27% and 10% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in all-India quota for postgraduate Medical programmes, wherein the petitioners held that as many as 15% and 50% seats in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical programmes are filled through the all-India pool through the NEET examination.

The bench questioned the criteria of requiring an annual income of a household to be below Rs. 8 lakh per annum for being considered as an Economically Weaker Section, wherein the bench questioned the procedure and exercise employed by the Centre before arriving at the aforementioned income limit of Rs. 8 lakh per annum to deem the socio-economic backwardness of the individuals under the EWS category. The bench speculated if the Centre had transposed the criteria of OBC over the EWS category. The Additional Solicitor General of India K. M. Natraj (ASG) held that the Cabinet had followed proper procedure and approvals before arriving at the said figure; however, the bench quashed the argument by saying that the fixation of the limit cannot be a matter of public policy as noted by the ASG, rather the bench directed the ASG to demonstrate quantifiable data to validate the said limit.

The bench gave the next date for the hearing on October 10 whilst asking the Centre about the exercise undertaken by them before arriving at the figure for the EWS category.

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