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OBC Quota In PG Courses Not Prohibited; Can't Say Backwardness Will Disappear With Graduation: Supreme Court In NEET-AIQ Case

Shruti Kakkar
20 Jan 2022 12:34 PM GMT
OBC Quota In PG Courses Not Prohibited; Cant Say Backwardness Will Disappear With Graduation: Supreme Court In NEET-AIQ Case
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The Supreme Court on Thursday held that there is no prohibition for introducing reservation for socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) in Post-Graduate courses."In our opinion, it cannot be said that the impact of backwardness simply disappears because a candidate has a graduate qualification", the Court said.The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was...

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that there is no prohibition for introducing reservation for socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) in Post-Graduate courses.

"In our opinion, it cannot be said that the impact of backwardness simply disappears because a candidate has a graduate qualification", the Court said.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was considering the writ petitions filed by NEET aspirants challenging the Central Government's decision to introduce 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes ("OBC") and 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Section ("EWS") in NEET All India Quota.

One of the arguments raised by the petitioners was that there cannot be reservation in post-graduate courses and that the PG admissions must be solely merit-based.  Rejecting this contention, the Court upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for OBC candidates in the AIQ seats for UG and PG medical and dental courses.

The bench in the case Neil Aurelio Nunes and Ors v. Union of India & Ors observed,

"In our opinion, it cannot be said that the impact of backwardness simply disappears because a candidate has a graduate qualification. Indeed, a graduate qualification may provide certain social and economic mobility, but that by itself does not create parity between forward classes and backward classes. In any event, there cannot be an assertion of over-inclusion where undeserving candidates are said to be benefitting from reservation because OBC candidates who fall in the creamy layer are excluded from taking the benefit of reservation. Thus, we find that there is no prohibition in introducing reservation for socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) in PG courses."

Article 15(5) does not make any distinction between UG and PG Courses

At the outset, the judgment noted that Article 15(5) of the Constitution - which provides for reservations for socially and educationally backward classes in educational institutions- does not make any distinction between UG and PG Courses.

The Court noted that while in certain cases, it has been held that there should be no reservation in Super Specialty Courses, it has never held that reservations in medical PG courses are impermissible.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the petitioners had urged that for many individuals PG is the end of the road and therefore, the PG courses should be equated with SS courses and no reservation should be allowed in PG.

Rejecting the submission made by the Counsel, the bench in the judgement authored by Justice DY Chandrachud said,

"We find it difficult to accept this argument when this Court has time and again permitted reservation in PG courses. This argument merely seeks to create an artificial distinction between the courses offered at the PG level. Further, only certain medical fields do not have SS courses and on the basis of that we cannot deem that reservation is impermissible in PG as a whole. Crucially, the issue here is whether after graduation, an individual is entitled to reservation on the ground that they belong to a class that suffers from social and educational backwardness."

The court further said, "The Constitution enables the State to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes for admission to educational institutions at both the UG and PG levels. While on certain occasions, this Court has remarked that there cannot be any reservation in SS courses, this Court has never held that reservations in medical PG courses are impermissible."

Reference was also made to the Top Court's judgement in Pradeep Jain v. Union of India (1984) 3 SCC 654, Dr Preeti Srivastava v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1999) 7 SCC 120, AIIMS Student Union v. AIIMS 2002 (1) SCC 428 and Saurabh Chaudhary v. Union of India 2003 (11) SCC 146.

Shyam Divan argued that the judgments like Pradeep Jain raised serious concerns about the reservation in PG seat. Rejecting the argument, the Court held :

"The observations in Pradeep Jain(supra) that the AIQ seats must be filled by merit, must be read limited to merit vis-à-vis residence reservation. This Court in Pradeep Jain (supra) did not hold that reservation in AIQ seats is impermissible"

Also Read :  'Merit's Definition Cannot Be Reduced To Performance In Competitive Exams' : Supreme Court Upholds OBC Reservation In NEET-AIQ

 

Case Title: Neil Aurelio Nunes and Ors v. Union of India & Ors| Writ Petition (C) No. 961 of 2021

Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna

Citaiton : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 73

Click here to read/download the judgment



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