The Medical Counselling Committee will begin counselling for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for postgraduate courses on January 12, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Sunday.

“As per the assurance given by the health ministry to resident doctors, the MCC will start NEET-PG counselling from 12 January, 2022, after the order of the honourable Supreme Court,” Mandaviya said on Twitter. “This will give the country more strength in the fight against the coronavirus.”

On Friday, the Supreme Court had upheld the existing criteria for admissions this year to undergraduate and postgraduate courses of the NEET under the Other Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Section quota.

This means that 27% of the seats this year will be reserved for OBCs and 10% of them for those in the Economically Weaker Section category. The annual income criteria of Rs 8 lakh for the Economically Weaker Section quota will also hold for this year’s admissions.

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

Due to these hearings, the admissions for this year’s medical postgraduate courses had been delayed by several months.

The matter gained importance after hundreds of resident doctors at medical colleges in Delhi held massive protests in December against delay in college allotments after NEET, affecting access to medical services, especially in Delhi. The protests were called off after Mandaviya assured that the matter will be dealt with at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court then agreed to hear the matter on an urgent basis.

Earlier, a three-member committee formed by the Centre had recommended that the Rs 8 lakh annual income criteria should be retained. The committee had been formed after 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 will hear the matter pertaining to the validity of criteria for determining the EWS quota at length in the third week of March.

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