The National Medical Commission on Wednesday announced that the cut-off for qualifying percentile for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Post Graduate), or NEET PG, 2023 has been reduced to zero across all categories.

This means all candidates who appeared for the examination will be eligible to participate in the postgraduate medical counselling process.

The NEET is a qualifying test for undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses in medical and dental colleges across India. This year, the NEET PG was conducted on March 5.

Earlier, the NEET PG cut-off percentile was 50 for students from general or unreserved categories, 45 for persons with disabilities and 40 for students of other reserved categories.

The Indian Medical Association, the apex medical regulator, welcomed the decision, saying that it had requested the health ministry and the National Medical Commission for the change as seats in the medical colleges were staying vacant, leading to the wastage of valuable national resources.

“Due to the high percentile for the admission to various postgraduate courses in the medical colleges many deserving students were not able to join PG [postgraduate] seats which were vacant,” the body said.

The Federation of All India Medical Association, however, said that the move is shocking.

“It is ridiculous to see zero percentile candidates are eligible for getting a postgraduate seat,” it said. “This is a mockery of the standard of medical education and healthcare system.”

Dr Satendra Singh, a senior faculty member of the Delhi University’s College of Medical Sciences, described the order as “beyond bizarre”, reported The Print.

“This is an insult to those students who put in hours of learning and dedication [for the NEET exam],” Singh told the news website. “Consequently, it will lead to substandard patient care.”