Supreme Court upholds validity of OBC quota in NEET admissions [20.1.2022]

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of quota for Other Backward Classes candidates in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test’s (NEET) All India Quota seats for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses,noting that “reservation is not at odds with merit” in open competitive examinations.

“If open examinations present equality of opportunity to candidates to compete, reservations ensure that the opportunities are distributed in such a way that backward classes are equally able to benefit from such opportunities which typically evade them because of structural barriers. This is the only manner in which merit can be a democratising force that equalises inherited disadvantages and privileges. Otherwise claims of individual merit are nothing but tools of obscuring inheritances that underlie achievements,” a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna observed in a 106-page judgment.

The court said an open competitive exam only ensures formal equality and does not end widespread ingrained inequalities in the availability of and access to educational facilities to certain classes of people, including the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

“The privileges that accrue to forward classes are not limited to having access to quality schooling and access to tutorials and coaching centres to prepare for a competitive examination but also includes their social networks and cultural capital (communication skills, accent, books or academic accomplishments) that they inherit from their family,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

21 Jan 2022