The Supreme Court on Tuesday called for the end of the reservation system in all institutions of higher education, regretting that ‘some privilege remains unchanged’ 68 years after Independence. It urged the Modi government to take steps to remove reservations in ‘national interest’.
The apex court also referred to a body of judgments, asking government authorities to refrain from relaxing the eligibility criteria basing it on various kinds of reservations.
According to Indian Express, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and PC Pant noted that despite several reminders to the central and state governments to make merit the primary criteria for admissions into super-specialty courses, the reality is that reservation is given preference over merit.
“The fond hope has remained in the sphere of hope… The said privilege remains unchanged, as if (it is) to compete with eternity,” the bench remarked. The court said it agreed with two of its own judgements from 1988.
The two cases refer to reservations in super-speciality medical courses, wherein the Supreme Court had stated that ‘there should really be no reservation’. The rationale given was that improving higher education was in the general interest of the country, and quality of medical services needed to be good.
“We hope and trust that the Government of India and the state governments shall seriously consider this aspect of the matter without delay and appropriate guidelines shall be evolved…” these judgments had stated.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it was ‘inclined’ to convey the same message it did 27 years ago, according to Indian Express. “Therefore, we echo the same feeling and reiterate the aspirations of others so that authorities can objectively assess and approach the situation so that the national interest can become paramount,” the court said.
The apex court also referred to a body of judgments, asking government authorities to refrain from relaxing the eligibility criteria basing it on various kinds of reservations, since it would defeat the very purpose of imparting the best possible training to selected meritorious candidates.
These observations were made by the Supreme Court while delivering judgement on a slew of petitions which had challenged an eligibility criteria for admissions into certain super-specialty medical courses in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The bench said it could not interfere with the admission process in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since a Presidential Order had been created and the constitutionality of the order not challenged.
Recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had caused a controversy by opining that the reservation system in the country needed to be reexamined, sparking protests from across the political spectrum. Even the BJP had disagreed with Bhagwat and stated that there were no plans to scrap reservations.