The practice of reservation started in India under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Indian constitution to empower and uplift the economically weaker sections and the oppressed castes to prevent discrimination and enable them to have equal opportunities.As a result of this,it was recommended by the government of India to reserve some University seats and government jobs for people belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backward classes.The hundred and third amendment of the constitution in 2019 gave 10% reservation to the economically weaker sections of the society.This case is related to the preservation of both OBC and EWS reservations in the NEET exam and the writ petition was filed by Neil Aurielo Nunes and others in the Supreme Court of India. The case of Neil Aurelio Nunes vs Union of India was presided by the bench of Hon’ble Justice D.Y Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice Mr.A.S Bopanna.
For the academic year 2021–2022, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's Directorate General of Health Services announced that the 15% and 50% PG seats in the All India Quota (AIQ) would have a 10% EWS reservation and a 27% OBC (NCL) quota.Currently, the AIQ scheme fills 15% of UG seats and 50% of PG seats in state-run universities based on merit by holding open competitions. The remaining 85% of UG and 50% of PG seats are set aside for applicants residing in the respective States. According to Abhay Nath v. University of Delhi, there was room for SC and ST candidates on the AQI seats. As per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act of 2006, SC, ST, and OBCs students are entitled to up to 15% of seats in Central Educational Institutions. However, state contributions for AIQ in State-run institutions were not subject to the OBC reservation policy.In state-run medical institutes, Tamil Nadu gave OBCs a 50% reservation. Giving OBCs reservations in AIQ seats gave rise to the dispute in the current instance. As a result, a writ suit was filed asking for a mandamus order to implement OBC reservation in AIQ. The current writ case contests the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test's AIQ seat reservation for OBC and EWS.
Arguments by the petitioner:
Mr. Shyam Divan argued that the OBC community should not receive a reservation in the AIQ on the following grounds: Once a person earns a graduate degree and qualifies as a doctor, he cannot be regarded as a member of a lower social class.Since admission to PG programs and super specialties requires a high level of expertise and talent, only the most deserving applicants should be considered because merit cannot be compromised.
Arguments by the respondent:
On Behalf of Union of India , Mr. Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, claimed that the 27% OBC reservation in AIQ seats is constitutionally legitimate for the following reasons: AIQ is a national programme that will help many applicants gain admission. Reservations for AIQ seats are a matter of state policy, and they are never ruled to be unlawful.Merit is independent of grades in any way.
1. Whether the very concept of the reservation to the OBC community in AIQ Quota in PG NEET compromises with merit and is detrimental to national interest?
2. Whether providing reservations to OBC candidates under AIQ in State-run medical and dental colleges is constitutional?
The claim that meritocracy and reservations are incompatible is unfounded. The Constituent Assembly believed that there needed to be a framework for elevating those communities who had experienced discrimination in the past to enter administration since they had been denied access to resources and equitable opportunities.Notably, the Drafting Committee noted that the introduction of draft Article 10 (now Article 16(4)) was to achieve the utmost efficiency in State Services as well as the elevation of the underprivileged classes by a sufficient representation of them in the State services. Merit cannot be separated from the social injustices that already exist; rather, the promise of equality of opportunity must be interpreted in light of social justice; otherwise, it will only serve the interests of the wealthy. Because of the discrimination, they have endured for years, which has prevented them from enjoying their basic rights equally, substantive equality, or the merit of candidates, cannot be purely determined based on open competition. The court opined that no one should be denied equal rights only because they don't adhere to some arbitrary criteria that institutions have established.The broad principle of equality is set forth in Articles 14, 15(1), and 16(1), and this general principle is furthered by Articles 15(4)(i.e., reservation) and 16(4), furthering the cause of social justice. Reservations provided for the benefit of lower classes and other special arrangements meant to address structural disparities in society cannot be an exception to formal equality.Therefore, there was a need to redefine merit.Entry into higher education institutes largely depends on merit but such merit is equivalent to a person’s upbringing and social strata as well.The bench ruled that providing AIQ is a policy decision of the government subject to judicial review hence SC’s permission is not required.
 (2022) 4 SCC 1
Author ~ Spoorthi gujjula
Student of law at Mahindra University