Supreme Court

Supreme Court upholds constitutional validity of OBC quota in NEET

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admin January 24, 2022
Updated 2022/01/24 at 2:35 PM

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates in the All India Quota seats for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses on Thursday, stating that “reservation does not conflict with merit” in open competitive examinations.

“If open exams provide applicants with an equal chance to compete, reservations guarantee that opportunities are dispersed in such a manner that backward classes are equally able to benefit from such opportunities, which they would otherwise miss out on due to structural barriers.” Merit can only be a democratising force that equalises inherited disadvantages and privileges in this way. In a 106-page judgement, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna stated that “otherwise, claims of individual merit are nothing but tools of obscuring inheritances that underlie achievements.”

According to the court, an open competitive exam simply assures nominal equality and does not address broad-engrained inequities in the availability of and access to educational institutions for specific groups, including the OBC.

Forward-class privileges include not only access to high-quality education tutorials and coaching centers to prepare for competitive exams, but also their social networks and cultural capital (communication skills, accents, books, and academic achievements) inherited from their families, Cultural capital ensures that a child from the forward classes is unconsciously trained by their family to pursue higher education or high positions commensurate with their family’s status. Individuals from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who are first-generation learners and originate from communities whose traditional occupations do not result in the transmission of necessary skills to do well in open examinations suffer as a consequence of this.

As a result, merit is not exclusively a result of one’s own efforts.

“The language around merit obscures how family, education, riches, and a gift of abilities, all of which society today appreciates, contribute to one’s growth. As a result, the exclusionary criterion of merit tends to diminish the dignity of people who confront obstacles to development that are not their fault, ” Justice Chandrachud explained.

According to the court, an “idea of merit” based on test results deserves “deeper scrutiny.”

While examinations are a vital and practical means of disseminating educational opportunities, grades are not necessarily the greatest indicator of individual talent. “It would be difficult to declare a high-scoring applicant deserving just because they received high grades if they did not utilise their skill to conduct good actions,” Justice Chandrachud reasoned.

The court said that the fortitude and perseverance necessary to rise beyond disadvantage are equally expressive of individual quality and worth.

 

Source: The Hindu

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