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Law

'Merit Should Be Socially Contextualised': SC Upholds 27% OBC Quota in NEET

The apex court observed that reservation for backward classes is not at odds with merit but it furthers distributive impact.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 20, upheld the 27% quota for Other Backward Classes in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test which students take for admission into state government-run medical institutions.

The apex court observed, according to Bar and Bench, that reservation for backward classes is not at odds with merit but it furthers distributive impact.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna in an interim order on January 7 had allowed the resumption of medical counselling for NEET-post graduate admissions for the year 2021-22, and upheld the validity of 27% OBC and 10% economically weaker sections quotas.

The NEET-PG is conducted by the National Board of Examinations that comes under the Union health ministry.

Doctors across India had been protesting for counselling to begin so that large scale vacancies can be filled.

The counselling process was delayed as the Supreme Court was hearing petitions challenging the validity of the Union government’s July 2021 decision to introduce OBC and EWS reservation in NEET-based admissions.

On Thursday, the bench further said that competitive exams do not reflect economic social advantage which is accrued to some classes.

“Articles 15(4) and 15(5) are facets of substantive equality. Competitive exam do not reflect economic social advantage which is accrued to some classes. Merit should be socially contextualised. Reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers it’s distributive impact,” the Court said.

The bench also stressed on the reasoning behind why the All India Quota (AIQ) system for reservation in state-run medical college seats was devised in the first place.

“Centre was not required to seek permission of this court before granting reservation in AIQ seats and thus their decision was correct. We hold that reservations for OBC in AIQ for undergraduate and post graduate courses is constitutionally valid,” the order stated.

The court added that the validity of criteria for determining the economically weaker section quota will have to be heard at length in March this year.