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Reservation for In-service Doctors

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In a landmark judgment, the authority of the states to reserve 50% of seats in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical postgraduate (PG) courses for in-service candidates has been upheld by the honourable Supreme Court of India on 31 August (Writ Petition [Civil] No 196 of 2018, 2020). The judgment is particularly relevant as it comes in the backdrop of a public health emergency which the country is currently facing, which has exposed the basic vulnerabilities of our health systems—especially the huge shortage of specialist doctors mainly in public sector facilities in rural areas.

After NEET PG exams were introduced in 2017, the reservation for in-service doctors was cancelled by Medical Council of India (MCI) and they offered incentive marks to compensate for the same which was objected to by the Government Doctor’s Associations all over India. This placed the in-service doctors in an unfavourable position which got reflected in the PG counselling held after the introduction of NEET (Sundararaman and Adithyan 2019). In 2018, Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association (TNMOA) filed a case against MCI and the medical counselling for Tamil Nadu in that year was postponed due to the same. In that year, the central government set apart a considerable number of seats to the state (Tamil Nadu) and hence 54% of the seats were filled by in-service candidates finally. In 2019, the figures got reversed wherein only 43% went to in-service doctors and among them a larger proportion got selected only for non-clinical seats. If the trend had continued, most of the rural areas would face shortage of doctors as well as lack of specialists at higher government facilities. The private health sector would have unduly gained from this.

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Updated On : 16th Oct, 2020

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