In what might prove to be a rather unpopular advice, the Supreme Court yesterday held that national interest required removing all forms of reservation in higher-education institutions as reservation often holds predisposition over merit.
The bench of judges Justices Dipak Misra and PC Pant, observed these remarks while delivering a judgment on a range of petitions from Andhra Pradhesh, Telangana and Kerala, regarding the barrier to securing admission in post-graduate admissions on the basis of place of residence. Additionally, the bench also noted that previous suggestions by the Supreme Court to make meritorious performance, and not reservation, the primary criteria for admissions, in specialized courses (post-graduation and above), have not been addressed by the government.
The bench quoted two separated judgments from 1988 where the court had dealt with the issue of reservation in super-specialty courses in medical institutes, and said, “there should be really no reservation”, as the idea of reservation goes against the improvement of standard of higher education and thereby improving the medical services to the people of the country.
Emphasizing on the fact that the concept of reservation defeats the objective of providing best possible higher- education to meritorious students, the court urged the government to take ‘objective’ steps. without any delay, and set up appropriate guidelines. It also asked the government to reconsider the special privileges that are granted to states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (by the President under the Constitution), as it was pertinent to the case in question, and showed the court’s inability to supersede that privilege and pass a judgement for redress.
What does this judgement mean?
The top judiciary court in the country has taken a firm stand on the issue of reservation, and has re-iterated the urgent need to formulate a better system in place. It has quite accurately pointed out the flaws and drawbacks of the present reservation system, which, in practicality manages to benefit only a minute share of the students it is intended for. The judgement also clearly directs the government to take an ‘objective’ decision on the matter, and that too in a timely manner, for every year lakhs of students are loosing out on the opportunity to receive quality education, specially, in institutes of higher education.
What does the future look like?
Though one can expect this to spark of a huge debate and dialogue in the country, with strong arguments on both the sides, the possibility of this judgement and direction to actually materialize on ground looks farther than a distant reality. One needs to understand that India, the politics, the economics, and the culture of it, survives and thrives, on the differences of the various communities that exist within. The Patel agitation in Gujarat and the now-forgotten Jat protest in Haryana, morbidly celebrate this difference, by asking for a special status, in social security schemes, with the thrust on jobs and education. The fear of being unpopular, or facing a backlash, is a deterrent big enough to not do away with reservation. For now, reservations are here to stay, but even an initiation of this dialogue means that seeds have been planted for a positive change tomorrow.
It is exactly what the bench has remarked, “The fond hope has remained in the sphere of hope… The said privilege remains unchanged, as if it is to compete with eternity.”