NEET Admissions 2021-22: On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld its January 7 order allowing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the NEET undergraduate and postgraduate admissions for 2021-22 after it noted that high scores are not the sole criteria for merit.
“Merit must be contextualised with respect to social and economic background. Role of reservation cannot be negated in remedying backwardness. Reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers the distributive consequences of social justice,” a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said.
The court also said the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) criteria for admission to NEET-PG and the existing criteria (Rs 8 lakh gross annual income cut-off) will apply to the current admission year.
“Judicial intervention at this stage would have delayed admissions for this year. Therefore no stay on reservation criteria for 2021-22 batch. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Delay in recruitment of doctors would impact pandemic response,” the court added.
It would not be possible to pass an order on the merits of the policy without hearing all parties with respect to material relied on for reservation, and identification of "poor and poorest", the bench said.
Citing Article 15(4) and 15(5), which ensures equality, the top court said, “Competitive exams don't reflect excellence, capabilities of individuals. They do not reflect the social economic and cultural advantage that accrues to some classes.”
In March, the issue of the validity of EWS reservation and eligibility status will be heard by the top court.
The Supreme Court allowed the resumption of medical counselling for NEET-PG admissions for the year 2021-22. It also upheld the validity of 27 per cent OBC and 10 per cent EWS quotas.
"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.