Bengaluru: The High Court of Karnataka quashed the state government notification issued on October 6, 2022, by which seats earmarked for in-service candidates from PG-NEET examination 2022 was reduced from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.
The government quota is for doctors who are already serving in government service across Karnataka.
The court made this order in a batch of petitions filed by in-service candidates. They had pointed out that another division bench of the court in a related order on October 14, had passed an interim order that "when 30 per cent of seats were reserved for in-service candidates on 09-01-2022 there appears to be no justification for reducing the same to 15 per cent."
Despite the interim order the Karnataka Examination Authority had announced the notification and published the first round of allotment.
"The only explanation offered on behalf of respondents is that the numbers of seats are more than the number of candidates. However, the aforesaid reason is not forthcoming from the minutes of the meeting dated 29-09-2022," the division bench of Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty said in their judgement on October 21. The respondents in the petitions were the State of Karnataka, the Directorate of Medical Education, Commissionerate of Health and Family Welfare and the Karnataka Examination Authority."
"The impugned notification dated 06-10-2022 suffers from the vice of non-application of mind and is arbitrary," the HC said, quashing the notification. The seat matrix dated 09-10-2022 issued by the Director of Medical Education was also quashed.
The HC, however, said the "State Government shall be at liberty to prescribe the quota for in-service candidates afresh while taking into account relevant criteria and fill up the seats."
The HC in its judgement also mentioned what a relevant criteria for the quota is. "The relevant criteria is the number of seats as well as the number of in-service candidates who have qualified to participate in the counselling. The in-service candidate needs to have a better ratio of choice. For the preceding year, the ratio of choice for in-service candidates was better and the ratio of choice in respect of seats was 1:5 i.e, 1 candidate had the option of choosing 1 out of 5 available seats, which has been reduced to this year to virtually 1:1 i.e, a candidate has to choose 1 seat which is available. The quota for in-service candidates has been reduced without assigning any cogent reasons and the decision appears to have been taken in a casual and cavalier manner."