Reservation in AIQ of NEET: Supreme Court balances Merit with Equity
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In the month of July, new guidelines for the NEET examination which are to be implemented from the academic session of 2021.In the ‘All India Quota’ seats for admission to medical courses, the government declared a 27% reservation for OBCs and a 10% reservation for EWS students.
History of All India Quota in Medical Examinations
In a case in 1984, the Supreme Court was requested to rule on whether or not the Indian Constitution’s policy for domicile-based reservations in medical institutions was valid. The court consented to domicile-based reservations but warned that they may undermine “merit” at the national level by preventing medical students from competing for restricted places. As a result, the court ruled that students from other areas of the country must be allowed to enroll in 30% of undergraduate courses and 50% of postgraduate courses in any state. The Supreme Court’s decision came to be known as the ‘All India Quota’.
The state of Tamil Nadu argued in a later court decision in 1986 that without any reservation plan in place under the ‘All India Quota’ seats, the interests of students from marginal communities would certainly suffer. In Dinesh II, the court decreased the number of seats from 30% to 15% in undergraduate courses and from 50% to 25% in postgraduate courses, again balancing the interests of the marginalized minority with merit. Following that, in postgraduate courses, the AIQ seats were expanded to 50% from 25%, without affecting the reserved seats under the undergraduate program.
The conflicting issue at the moment
The reservation policy issued for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) has been portrayed as a social justice issue by the ruling party, whereas the supreme court has worked tirelessly over the last few decades to strike a balance between merit and equity. Viewing this problem via the prism of social justice vs. merit would be misguided.
The Point of Discussion: Balance between Merit and Equity
The implementation of NEET has been regarded as bringing merit to a controversial subject. When the Supreme Court established the All India Quota in 1984, it also stressed the importance of a national level admission test for medical students. The primary concept was to establish a compromise between the ideal of fair equality of opportunity and a variety of integrated reservations, which promote universal coverage for backward classes in states. Also, it appears that the early skepticism about establishing reservations in the All India Quota seats was motivated by concerns about merit. The Supreme Court’s merit standard is simple and not exceptional.
The NEET fulfills the Supreme Court’s concern for merit by requiring each candidate to get the minimum marks required to pass the qualifying examination. In light of the Madras High Court’s directions in the AIADMK case, which asked the central government to decide on the implementation of 27% OBC reservation in All India Quota seats within three months, and the ongoing Dr. Saloni Kumari case before the Supreme Court, which raises a similar issue, the government’s decision to implement OBC and EWS reservation in All India Quota seats is being questioned.
In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled on a decision known as the ‘All India Quota’. The recent judgment in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) about the new rules reservation for OBCs and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) has been portrayed as a social justice issue. The Supreme Court has worked tirelessly over the last few decades to strike a balance between merit and equity. The government’s decision to implement OBC and EWS reservation in All India Quota seats is being questioned.