The noble constitutional goals of social justice and equality are part of the larger constitutional vision, and would most certainly qualify as legitimate competing interests. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which India is a signatory, provides that higher education shall be made equally accessible to all. When Articles 19(1)(g) and 19(6) are interpreted in the light of India’s constitutional vision as well as international obligations such as UDHR, it becomes clear that the State has a compelling interest in ensuring that meritorious students belonging to socially & educationally backward class are not denied admission to higher educational institutions due to other considerations. Therefore, it is legitimate State interest that poverty born out of social disabilities does not stand in the way of meritorious students who are desirous of pursuing higher education. Challenge for the state then is how to discharge its obligations of social justice without intruding into the rights of privately managed institutions of higher education.
Dr. Ayaz Ahmad, Associate Professor, Unitedworld School of Law (UWSL)
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