SC Upholds OBC Reservation In NEET-AIQ, Says Reservation Not At Odds With Merit

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New Delhi: Upholding the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)- All India Quota (AIQ), the Supreme Court on Thursday said merit’s definition cannot be reduced to performance in competitive exams.

The apex court said the marks obtained in the examination cannot be the sole basis of merit. “Many sections of the society have been in a position of advantage socially, economically, and culturally. This becomes the reason for their greater success in the examination,” the apex court added.

“Article 15(4) and Article 15(5) are not exceptions to Articles 15(1). They are restatements of the principle of substantive equality under Article 15(1),” an apex court bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AS Bopanna said.

“Merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination which only provides formal equality of opportunities. Current competencies are assessed by competent examinations but are not reflective of excellence, capability and potential of an individual which are also affected by lived experiences, individual character, etc. Not reflected in exams are the social, economic and cultural advantages that accrue to certain classes and contributes to their success in these examinations,” the apex court bench added providing the reasons to approve 27% OBC reservation in All India Quota, Live Law reported.

Stating “examinations are not a proxy for merit”, the apex court bench said: “Merit should be socially contextualised and re-conceptualised as an institution towards equality that we as a society value.”

The apex court stated if a person from the reserved category has come in a better position and a person from the unreserved category is not in a better position socially or economically then it cannot be a ground to justify the entire reservation.

The apex court also said that it was not necessary for the Center to take permission to give OBC reservation in the AIQ.

Earlier on January 7, the apex court had allowed the commencement of counseling process for NEET-PG and NEET-UG for 2021-22 admissions on the basis of the existing 27% quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota.

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