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Case Number: WP© 961/2021

  1. Facts:

The All India Quota (hereafter the AIQ), introduced in 1986, for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test more popularly NEET, the pre-med entrance exam which takes place for the candidates who are determined to take up medicine as their career reserves around 15 per cent seats in the state aided medical colleges and universities. It can be simply understood as the domicile free merit based admission opportunities to the candidates. The matrix can be understood well by the logic that as everyone wants to study in their native states, but due to unavoidable circumstances they don’t get the seat in their native state so they have to abide by the allotted seat in some other state. In order to ease out this very thing the AIQ works for the same providing a well defined matrix of seats of separate quota in different states. People competing for that one seat in the 15 % provided is quite intense. It lures candidates from the General category Indian citizens, the Non Resident Indians (NRIs), the Overseas Citizenship of India holders (OCIs), the Person of Indian Origin (PIOs), and foreigner students as well. [i] Articles 15 (4) and 16 (4) direct for the reservation to the socially and educationally backward classes, widely the OBCs. Article 15 (5) mentions for the provision of admission of the educationally and socially backward classes in educational institutions. In compliance to the case of Saurabh Chaudhary v Union of India[ii], reservation to a reasonable extent isn’t violation of the Constitutional mandate for Equality. Meritocracy has helped to cut the gap between the upper and lower classes to a very notable extent. Social justice stands as our ultimate goal as a nation. 

  • Issues Raised:

After the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry announced for the 27% reservation for the OBC and 10% quota for the EWS in the prescribed AIQ for the UG & PG medical courses, coming full fledgedly into force by the session 2021-2022, came along the protest.

Predominantly there were major 4 issues raised in this case. Those are listed down below:-

  • Can the OBC and EWS reservation be permitted in the AIQ?
  • Can it be the Executive’s decision for the reservation of seats in the AIQ?
  • Does the Union Government’s 8 Lakh annual income limit to determine the EWS in forward castes’ group is valid enough?
  • Whether this 8 Lakh income income limit is a reliable marker of the degree of backwardness? [iii]

When taking note of all the aforementioned issues raised it can be said that the following definitely needed the attention it got. The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna held the interim order resuming the counselling of the concerned UG and PG medical admissions.

Now the cap for EWS is eight lakh per annum and this id the point which was in debate for the case as raised in the first issue. Whether the OBC and EWS would be clubbed together under the same distinction.

  • Contention:

It was said that the Centre did the right thing for the OBCs after almost 13 years, while the others had firm disagreements.Writs from all across the country garnered attention under Article 32 of our Constitution. Most of which masked under the “merit” criteria. Parties in favour said that it was an attempt to hamper the social justice system prevalent in the society. The disharmonious attempt must be kept in check. The Pandey Committee was set up in order to look into the conflict and also suggest measures to ensure justice. [iv] Merit should be checked. As per Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, though, merit is solely not dependent on marks. Outrage on the term Substantive Equality was seen. Outcomes in such open competitive exams is based on multiple factors and not just merit. Revisiting the meaning of merit is the need of the hour.

  • Rationale:

It’s the SC’s decision that made up a clearer picture. By the court saying that the backwardness can’t just vanish when a candidate completes his/her graduation. Over the last decade there has been surge of medical colleges for this very reason. Many government initiatives have been taken so that the apt number of doctors can be present in every littlest of human groups residing in any corner of the Indian land.

Taking note of the One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Amendment Bill, 2021, it has now become easy for the States and the Union Territories to decide their OBC list. It prevents out any conflict based on the issues of caste or seat allotment on the same. 

This would ensure the necessary representation for the upliftment of the backward classes.  As per Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, the negative right more commonly known, that the State cannot deny equality before law and equal protection before law to any person. In connotation to that, Article 16 too states that no citizen based on their caste, creed, religion, place of birth, sex be denied of opportunity or office. So to say this very judgement meant that helping the approximately 5000 candidates annually taking admissions and further securing themselves a renowned or the noblest job of being a doctor. More precisely Article 16(4), strives for the achievement of highest efficiency in State’s services and also betterment of the backward classes by adequate representation.

  • Defects of law:

In order to be reasonable, a classification must not be arbitrary, but must be rational.

The AIQ talks of the 15% and 50% reservation of the seats in UG and PG NEET in the government medical colleges. Initially there wasn’t any said reservation in the AIQ up until 2007. Such a special provision could also bring up more castes. It could also create a wider divide in our social structure than that present already. It is meant to achieve the notion of equality enshrined in the Constitution by the Constitution makers. The court in its argument said that there is a broader meaning to merit altogether. The reservation of SC and ST are totally different. It was in the case of  Abhay Nath v University of Delhi, that the reservation of seats to the SC and ST was introduced and allowed under the AIQ scheme.

A writ of Mandamus was filed to seek OBC reservation in the AIQ as earlier it was limited to the SC and ST only. 

 The admissions were allowed 2021 and 2022 in order to avoid any dislocated admission procedures. The order got carried forward for the session of 2023 as well, allowing the EWS enrollments in the AIQ scheme.

  • Inference:

The above described case can be reiterated that this Supreme Court landmark judgement talks of the betterment it could offer to almost 2000 OBC students in MBBS, 2700 OBC students in PG NEET, 590 EWS students in MBBS and 990 EWS students in PG NEET as per the notification published by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry. This holds true that being a graduate upto certain extent definitely alleviates a person’s life but in order to attain that stage or qualification, it’s all the conditions combined that he had to go through. This involves the schooling, background, parenting etc.

Admission to the medical colleges under state quota seats is the subject to reservation policies of  the concerned state and is subject to the changing regulations and legislation from time to time. The Supreme Court held that the introduced reservation criteria for the socially and educationally backward classes i.e. the OBC cannot be barred as the backwardness of a candidate can’t disappear merely on his ground being a graduate, here an MBBS doctor for that matter. [v]As it is a central scheme so now the OBC candidates can now be able to compete for a seat following the Central OBC list. [vi] Hence the major objective behind it is to improve the social and educational status of the people from the talked categories resulting in an overall improvement and development of India.

Some important case laws in the light of reservation:

  1. Indra Sawhney v Union of India, (1992) –

Herein, social and educational backwardness was recognized leaving out economic backwardness by the nine judge Constitution bench with a 6:3 majority. 27% reservation to the backward classes was given with the elimination of creamy layer.

  • State of Madras v Champakam Dorairajan (1951) –

This landmark judgement brought about the First Amendment to the Constitution. This case pronounced as to whether any state could reserve seats in educational institutions based on caste or religion.

  • Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh v  Faculty Association (1998) –

A peculiar situation had arisen to which the court observed that when there is just one post in question then reservation won’t be allowed as it will be a 100% reservation. This would be violative of Constitutional norms.

  • M Nagraj and Others v Union of India and Others (2007) –

In this case the validity of 77nd Constitutional Amendment was upheld. The backwardness and certain inadequacies are the major reasons why reservation should be offered.

Saumya Shikha, VII Semester.

Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College,


[i] Sanjay Sharma / TOI-Online /What is the all India quota in neet? – times of India, The Times of India. (Accessed: 23 May, 2023) Available at:

[ii] Dr. Saurabh Choudhary and others v union of India and others on 07 May 2004 – judgement (no date) LawyerServices. (Accessed: 24 May 2023) Available at:  

[iii] OBC & EWS reservation in Postgraduate Medical Admissions (PG NEET) (2022) Supreme Court Observer. (Accessed: 23 May 2023) Available at:

[iv]SC order on EWS quota in NEET-PG Admissions Today (2022) The Indian Express.  (Accessed: 24 May 2023) Available at:

[v] Kakkar, S. (2022) OBC quota in PG courses not prohibited; can’t say backwardness will disappear with graduation: Supreme Court in Neet-Aiq Case, Live Law. (Accessed: 24 May 2023) Available at:

[vi] Centre announces 27% OBC and 10% EWS quota in medical education Manorama Yearbook. (Accessed: 24 May 2023) Available at: