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Cut-off marks defeat ST medical quota: plea in apex court

Legal Correspondent

Notice to 7 States on petition for relaxation of entrance test norm

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka on a petition seeking relaxation of the 40 per cent cut-off mark norm in the entrance examination fixed by the Medical Council of India for ST students.

A Bench, consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam, earlier sought a response from the MCI, the Dental Council of India and the Kerala government on a petition by some Kerala students challenging the cut-off marks.

The Bench, while issuing notice to the States which faced problems in filling ST vacancies, asked Kerala to take up the issue with the Centre giving concrete suggestions on how to fill the seats. It said the Centre and the MCI should consider finding a solution to the problem. The court also suggested to Kerala that it consider providing coaching to ST students for the entrance examination. The matter would be listed for hearing after eight weeks.

The MCI, in its response, said it was not permissible for any State to dilute eligibility conditions being applied uniformly throughout the country for MBBS admission. It said the Supreme Court, in several judgments, had held that the MCI regulations were mandatory to be followed by all States. Any ST candidate who had not obtained 40 per cent in the entrance examination was not eligible for admission, the MCI said.

According to K. Vineetha and six other petitioners, in view of the 40 per cent stipulation, seats meant for the Scheduled Tribes either remained vacant or were filled by SC or general category candidates, frustrating the very purpose of ST reservation. The petition said the ST students, who secured 90 per cent in the qualifying examination, were ranked behind the 10,000 top rankers in the entrance test, rendering them ineligible for admission as they failed to score 40 per cent in the entrance test.

“In the present academic year, only two out of 51 seats allotted for the STs in the medical stream were filled,” the petition said and sought a reduction in the cut-off marks.

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