The Supreme Court has allowed Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) to participate in the NEET UG 2021 counselling in the general category for this year only. After a writ petition was filed by OCI candidates challenging a notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to treat them as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) during college admissions, SC passed the interim order.
The top court directed the National Testing Agency (NTA) to declare the results of OCI candidates and allow them to appear for the counselling session as general category candidates, reported Live Law. A bench of including Justices Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari passed the interim order. It will hear the other issues raised in the petition on October 20.
“We are of the view that at least for the current academic year 2021-2022, the petitioners are entitled to be considered eligible for all the medical seats which the OCIs were eligible for before the issuance of the impugned notification dated March 4, 2021. Therefore we direct the NTA to declare the result of the examination taken by the petitioner’s NEET UG 2021 and the eligible petitioners are permitted to appear for the counselling in the general category. This order is confined to the academic year 2021-2022,” SC said.
SC added that OCIs are not Indian citizens but they have a special privilege. OCI cardholders have too have benefits. “Our country is known for inclusiveness. You can bring non-citizens and give them citizenship. These are very much Indians. Maybe they must have gone abroad. Section 9 must have been upheld many times now. But we are on the question of an immediate problem, namely, the notification,” Justice Nazeer said.
Justice Krishna Murari pointed “In so far as notification is concerned, they were not having these privileges or rights. You conferred upon them these privileges and rights. And subsequently to say that without any sudden, you withdrew that. From where do they have to go? The balance of convenience is in their favour. This is the prima facie case because such a notification can be declared arbitrary under Article 14. How do you say that prima facie? So far as final termination are concerned, they may be relevant. But they may not be arising at the interim stage.”
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for the centre said that the students have a right to participate in the exam but pointed that the seats are under NRI category. “They cant come for the seats reserved for Indians,” Bhatti said. She added that their rights have not been taken but many of the seats are subsidised as there is a government quota, management, and NRI quota.
The SC also argued that when it comes to paying fees under the NRI quota, these students do not have enough money as NRIs. “Why of a sudden this material change. We don’t know what position they are in. They had legitimate expectations that alright this year, they will hold the exam and appear and as a threshold of the exam, they will have to appear in the NRI quota. The question of participating in the counselling on a particular quota only depends on the year of the exam and not before that. Now once they clear the exam, you all of a sudden say that you will have to pay a fee of NRI quota,” SC said adding that there are around 10 per cent seats in the NRI quota.