Published on: January 21, 2022




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, noting that “reservation is not at odds with merit” in open competitive examinations.

Petitioners opposed the recommendations, saying the report was an admission that the government had not conducted any study before fixing the Rs 8 lakh limit for EWS in 2019.


  • Reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers its distributive consequences
  • Merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination
  • High scores in an examination are not a proxy for merit
  • Merit should be socially contextualized and reconceptualized as an instrument that advances social goods like equality that we as a society value
  • Competitive examinations assess basic current competency to allocate educational resources but are not reflective of excellence, capabilities and potential of an individual which are also shaped by lived experiences, subsequent training and individual character
  • Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) are not an exception to Article 15 (1), which itself sets out the principle of substantive equality (including the recognition of existing inequalities). Thus, Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) become a restatement of a particular facet of the rule of substantive equality that has been set out in Article 15 (1)
  • Article 15 (4) of the Constitution enables the State to make reservation for SCs and STs while Article 15 (5) empowers it to make reservation in educational institutions. Article 15 (1) says the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them