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Quota in higher education institutes

What is the Issue?

Noting that the Allahabad High Court “overstepped” its jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has set aside the High Court’s decision to remove the 50% institutional quota for admission to postgraduate medical courses in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Judgment

  • The judgment said: “The High Court did not take into consideration the fact that the State [Uttar Pradesh] had no power to control admission to these universities. Therefore, we are clearly of the view that the High Court overstepped its jurisdiction and the order of the High Court is erroneous and is liable to be set aside.”
  • The court said that the issue of the 50% reservation of seats was not before the High Court when it passed order.
  • The Bench also found that AMU, BHU, Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Union of India were also not parties before the High Court.
  • The court held that in Central universities 100% admissions to MBBS course are based on all-India examination.
  • There is no State quota for seats in Central universities like the AMU and the BHU or other Central institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
  • Another observation: “These seats have to be filled up on the basis of merit and institutional preference could be given to the extent permissible, i.e., 50% , as has been held by a catena of decisions including the Constitution Bench judgment of this court in the case of Saurabh Chaudri” .

Current status of Reservation in higher education in India

  • 50% of the seats are reserved currently.
  • The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that the total percentage of reservation should not exceed 50% of the seats.

Criticisms of reservation policy

  • Attempts are being made to create a vote bank by satisfying a particular chunk of Indian voters.
  • Attempts are also made to include more and more castes in the list of OBC beneficiaries.
  • The Reservation Policy actually has created a “new class of vested interest” in the society. They have earned permanently the benefit of the reservation policy.
  • The policy of reservation is contrary to the principle of equality. Equality presupposes equal treatment to all and equal protection of all people.
  • The policy of reservation has given rise to the politics of casteism in Indian political system.
  • The over consciousness of caste identity is obstructing the process of national integration.
  • Castes have been used as instruments for maintaining the vote banks of different political parties.

Justification of reservation

  • The Preamble to the Constitution of India aims to secure Justice-Social, Economic and Political among all its citizens. But so long as the social and economic inequalities continue, this objective cannot be secured.
  • The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Castes are victims of inequalities. So it is necessary to provide them special care and protections through reservations until they come forward at par with others.
  • The weaker sections of the society, like STs, SCs and Dalit’s have been the victims of exploitation for many centuries. Their backwardness, underdevelopment and deprivation can be removed through the compensatory provisions of reservation.
  • Empowerment of the weaker sections in the society will be possible through reservation. They can play their role in the political process of the system with confidence. In India, reservation has become a means of empowerment.
  • The Constitution gives directives to the State to take special care for protecting the interests of the weaker sections of the society. The best way of protecting their interest is to provide them some facilities in the way of reservations.
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