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The union government has informed the Supreme Court that it will revisit the 8 lakh income limit set for determining the Economically Weaker Section(EWS) reservation category in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) admission for medical courses.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that a committee will be constituted to determine the criteria for EWS and it would take four weeks.

Mehta said the Centre will constitute a committee with a deadline of four weeks to ascertain criteria for determining EWS category.

The NEET (PG) counselling stands postponed for 4 weeks till the committee decides on the criteria for determining EWS category, Mehta told the apex court.

The Supreme Court told Centre its EWS quota is very enabling and progressive kind of reservation and States must support Centre in its endeavour.

The bench said that the only question is that determination of the category should be in a scientific manner and it appreciates that the Centre has taken a decision to revisit the criteria earlier fixed.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for petitioners (students), said since a lot of time has passed and Centre should push back implementation of the EWS quota for the next academic year and the current year counselling should be allowed to go on.

The bench agreed with the submission of Datar and asked Mehta whether it could push the implementation of the constitutional amendment for the next academic year and allow the counselling to go on for the current academic year.

Mehta said that the government has taken a decision to implement the 103rd constitutional amendment from the current academic year and pushing back would not be appropriate.

He said that if the determination is done earlier than four weeks then it will inform the court.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Centre and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) July 29 notice providing 10% for EWS category in the NEET admissions.

The July 29 notice provide 27% reservation for OBC and 10% for the EWS category in 15% UG and 50% PG All India Quota seats (MBBS/BDS and MD/MS/MDS) with effect from the current academic session 2021-22.

Earlier, in an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment before the apex court, it justified the decision to set the limit of 8 lakh annual income fixed for determining the EWS category.

The ministry said the principle of fixing the amount is rational and in keeping with Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

On October 21, the top court had asked the Centre whether it would like to revisit the limit of rupees eight lakh annual income, fixed for determining the EWS category.

The top court had clarified that it is not embarking into the policy domain but is only trying to ascertain whether constitutional principles have adhered or not.

The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to put on hold the counselling for NEET PG until it decides the validity of the Centre's decision to introduce OBC and EWS reservation in All India Quota (AIQ).

The Central government also assured the top court that the counselling process will not commence till the Bench decides the matter.

The NEET – Postgraduate was held at 679 centres in 270 cities of the country with 1.6 lakh candidates appearing for it following Covid-19 protocols.

The exam was rescheduled twice in view of Covid-19.

(With inputs from agencies)

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