The Union government on Monday urged the Supreme Court to list the cases related to reservations for the Other Backward Classes and the Economically Weaker Sections in the all-India quota for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, or NEET, for hearing the next day, reported Live Law.

“There is some urgency,” Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta told the court. “If your lordships can consider having it tomorrow. I have requested Senior Advocate Arvind Datar [appearing for the petitioners] to be here.”

A clutch of petitions challenging the validity of 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% for the EWS category in the all-India quota seats in post-graduate medical courses is pending before the Supreme Court.

On Monday, Justice DY Chandrachud told the solicitor general that he would speak to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana regarding the government’s request.

“Justice Surya Kant is sitting with the chief justice and Justice Vikram Nath is in a different bench,” Chandrachud said. “I will have a word with the chief justice. I will request the chief justice if it is possible administratively to constitute a special bench.”

Mehta said if it is not possible to list the matter on Tuesday, it could be heard a day after that, reported PTI.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing the petitioners, said he has no objection if the matter is listed on Tuesday or Wednesday. The case is originally listed for hearing on Thursday.

In October, the Centre had said that it will not start counselling for medical courses till the case is settled.

Due to the delay in counselling, nearly 50,000 medical aspirants have been left in the lurch. Resident doctors have been protesting against the delay in Delhi and other parts of the country.

In 2019, the central government had extended reservation in education and jobs to poorer sections with an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh. This is meant for sections of society not covered by any reservation.

On November 25, the government had said it will review the criteria of an annual income of Rs 8 lakh for providing reservation under the EWS category. It had also formed a committee to look into revisit the income limit for providing reservation.

The Committee had recommended retaining the annual income criteria but also advised excluding families that have an agricultural land of 5 acres and above irrespective of their income. It had, however, asked the government to introduce the revisions from the next academic year as doing it now might lead to complications.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on December 31, the government had said that it has accepted the panel’s recommendations.

The case

A group of NEET aspirants in postgraduate and undergraduate medical courses, belonging to the general category, had filed a petition challenging the quota for OBCs and EWS catogories.

They had argued that the quotas were not justified when there is no data to show adequate representation of OBCs and when there is no demand for reservation.

At an earlier hearing of the petition on October 8, the Supreme Court had observed that the criteria of annual income of Rs 8 lakh appeared to be arbitrary and had asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind it.

The court had asked whether the Centre had simply extended the income limit for the creamy layer among OBCs to the Economically Weaker Sections category as well.