The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from the Centre on a plea claiming that reserved category candidates, who secured general category marks in NEET PG-2022, are still being treated as reserved category in all India quota (AIQ) seats.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioners, submitted that the result of the first round of NEET-PG counselling was released on September 28, however, seats belonging to meritorious reserved candidates (MRC), i.e. reserved category candidates, who on the basis of merit, were entitled to get admissions against the 50 per cent seats of the general category but were allotted reserved category seats in violation of the judgments of the apex court.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati contended that the reservation policy on roster basis was being followed in the counselling process. However, a bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked Bhati to file a response within this week.

Bhushan contended that the petitioners pray that the allotment lists for NEET-PG counselling published thus far in violation of the established reservation policy be set aside and fresh allotment lists for NEET-PG counselling be issued in compliance with top court's judgments.

Bhati submitted that allocation of seats for NEET-PG Counselling for AIQ is being carried out as per para 3.1 and 3.2 of the admission brochure. However, the bench, also comprising Justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala, said an affidavit on behalf of the Union government would be necessary.

Bhushan cited the example of the OBC candidate who secured 73rd rank, securing his place in general category but he was kept in the reserved category, affecting the prospect of another candidate from the reserved category.

After hearing arguments, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on Monday and asked the Centre to file an affidavit in the matter.

The plea, filed by Pankaj Kumar Mandal and two others, said: "It is a settled principle of law that reserved category candidates who meet the eligibility criteria as laid down for unreserved seats are entitled to get admissions against the 50 per cent general category seats. Thus, if a candidate is entitled to be admitted on the basis of his own merit, then such admission should not be counted against the quota reserved for Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe or any other reserved category since that will be against the constitutional mandate enshrined in Article 16(4)."

It further added that those members who belong to reserved category but get selected in the open competition on the basis of their own merit have a right to be included in the general/unreserved category. "Such MRC are not to be included in the quota reserved for the Scheduled Castes, etc," it said.