The Centre on Saturday told the Supreme Court that it will retain the Rs 8-lakh annual income limit as one of the criteria to provide reservation to a person under the Economically Weaker Section category, Live Law reported.

It based the decision on a report of a committee formed to deliberate on the matter. The panel submitted its report to the Centre on December 31.

“The committee has come to the conclusion that the existing annual income criteria of Rs 8 lakh is not over-inclusive,” the panel said in its report to Centre, according to the Hindustan Times.

The Centre also accepted the committee’s recommendation to omit the residential asset criteria for a person to be considered under the Economically Weaker Section category, Live Law reported.

Previously, a person who owned either five acres of agricultural land or a residential flat of 1,000 square feet and above in notified or non-notified municipalities was not considered a beneficiary.

These rules, however, will not apply to the ongoing admissions, including the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test, or NEET, counselling.

The government announced its decision in an affidavit that was filed in response to a group of petitions by NEET aspirants challenging 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes and 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section category in all-India quota seats in postgraduate medical courses.

Among the candidates who clear the National Eligibility Entrance Test, 15% of seats in MBBS courses and 50% of seats in MS and MD courses are filled through the all-India quota.

The petitioners had also questioned whether an annual income of Rs 8 lakh was a valid criterion for being included in the Economically Weaker Section category.

The Supreme Court in October had questioned the Centre’s rationale for fixing the income limit for inclusion in the Economically Weaker Sections category at Rs 8 lakh per year.

On November 25, the Centre had said that it would form a committee to review the income criteria. The counselling for admission in postgraduate medical courses based on this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test will be deferred till then, the Centre had told the court.

Doctors had said that the delay in new admissions to medical colleges has increased the workload in hospitals. They protested throughout December. Last week, when the doctors were heading towards Union Health Minister Masukh Mandaviya’s home in Delhi to convey their demands, they were dragged and beaten on the road by the police.

In condemnation, they called for a brief suspension of services at the outpatient department in the Capital’s hospitals. They concluded their strike following a meeting with the health minister and police, where they reportedly reached a consensus on doctors’ demands.