New Delhi, Sept 30 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today allowed the plea by Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) candidates to participate in the NEET-UG 2021 counselling under the general category.
While allowing the plea the bench headed by Justice S Abdul Nazeer said to ASG Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Centre, that there is a problem in notification with regard to its timing, (the date when it’s passed).
The Court was hearing the plea challenging the March 4, 2021 notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs directing OCI candidates to be treated at par with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for the purpose of NEET. This would mean successful OCI candidates would have to pay the higher fee paid by NRIs for medical seats in India.
The Court has noted in its order, “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 notification of March 4, 2021.”
Further, it stated, “Therefore, we direct the National Testing Agency to declare the result of the examination taken by the petitioners NEET-UG 2021 and the eligible petitioners are permitted to appear for the counselling in the general category.”
The Court said, “the immediate problem is the clause in your notification, now see, one thing is certain, articles 14 and 15 are applicable to citizens, not 16. The problem with the notification is the timing. Article 21 is available so far as the notification is concerned. Our country is known for inclusiveness, you can bring non-citizens and give them citizenship. These are very much Indians. Maybe they have gone abroad. Section 9 must have been upheld many times now. But we are on a question of an immediate problem, namely the notification.”
ASG Bhati replied, I appreciate, I acknowledge. The notification does not take away any right. They still have the right to participate in examinations. My lord earlier notification allowed only depending on each state to state. 1st is Indian citizens, the 2nd category is NRI, they are nonresident citizens. 3rd category is this OCI cardholder, they have voluntary taken up the citizenship. They have to meet a much lesser threshold. My lord they only need to be in India for 12 months, for others they have to make a period for a much longer period. However, for them, there are only 1-year criteria. The crux of the matter is they have to pay higher fees. Lacs and lacs of citizens that young citizens of our country are not getting these seats and resources.”
you say no right has been taken away, in the notification, but in fact, it takes away the right. The only thing is you can publish the notification, arbitrariness is still in question. The only matter of timing is arbitrary, the bench retorted.
The Court passed its interim order upon a plea challenging the March 4, 20201, notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs which treats Overseas Citizens of India at parity with Non-Resident Indians with regards to All India Entrance Tests such as NEET, JEE (Mains), JEE (Advanced) or such other tests for the purpose of admissions.
It had also sought directions to declare clause 4(ii) of the notification as ultra vires Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution as it fails to resident Indian OCIs with resident Indian citizens in all matters of entry and admission to professional colleges in India from the year 2021-2022 onwards./ILNS/KR/SNG/