The Supreme Court of India’s recent ruling on an all India quota deserves closer attention for a reason other than its impact on post graduate medical admissions. In a detailed order providing reasons for its ruling which upheld the Constitutional validity of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the All India Quota for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical admissions.
Underlining that “reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers its distributive consequences”, that “merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination” and “high scores in an examination are not a proxy for merit”.
The principle of equality is a fundamental assumption of a democratic society. It is wellrecognised that a corollary exists between equality and non-discrimination. To understand that we should first examine what we mean by equality and explore the characteristics that make it a progressive universal moral and legal principle.
Equality has been described as a “treacherously simple concept”, yet a diverse spectrum of opinions exists as to what is equality and what should a society do to incorporate and promote this value. The traditional approach of national legal systems was to employ the concept of equality as a system of formal rules.