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SC notice on plea by OCIs challenging govt notification putting them in NRI quota for admissions


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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has issued notice to Central government challenging a 2021 government notification that prohibits Overseas citizens of India from competing for any of the seats in the general category and have been made eligible only for seats available to Non Resident Indians. 

The plea says that it is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India in so far as it fails to accord parity to OCIs resident in India with resident Indian citizens in all matters of entry and admission to professional colleges in India from the year 2021-2022 onwards.

The plea contends that the parity granted to OCIs with Indian citizens is completely reversed by the challenged clause in the 2021 notification. OCIs were, without warning, lumped into the same category as NRIs for the purposes of admissions, a field in which the two categories were treated as separate and distinct for well over a decade.

The petition says that the Central Government had earlier brought OCIs at par with Indian Citizens in terms of appearing for the above mentioned examinations through notification in 2009.

Therefore, from 2009 till 2021, OCIs enjoyed parity with Indian Citizens in terms of admission to educational institutions, including being charged fees at par with Indian citizens, it added. 

The Petitioners are young students aged 17 to 18 years who are Overseas Citizens of India permanently resident in India, and who have undergone the entirety of their school education in India.  The Petitioners contend that they aspire to study medicine and allied courses at the university level and have been working towards that goal for the past few years. 

The furtherance of this goal rests on admission gained through various central and state conducted professional admission tests such as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test – Undergraduate 2022 Examinations, and the NEET (Super Speciality Courses) examination, for medical, dental, and other allied courses, among other examinations to be conducted in May-August 2022.

The petitioners say that being a part of a two year education cycle, and due to the highly competitive nature of these exams, the Petitioners had to choose particular streams, syllabi, and training programs from the 10th standard onwards in order to gain admission in general category seats in medical and other colleges.

“... Having toiled hard over the last few years for these competitive admission examinations, for which the application windows have already opened, the Petitioners who are OCIs permanently resident in India find themselves arbitrarily prohibited from competing for any of the seats in the general category and have been made eligible only for seats available to Non Resident Indians by virtue of the challenged clause in the notification dated March 4, 2021 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, despite the fact that NRIs and resident OCIs are completely distinct categories.” The plea added.

The plea by advocate Srishti Agnihotri says OCIs comprise a very small category: in the NEET(UG) 2021, they made up only 0.035% of the total number of candidates (i.e. 564 OCI candidates out of the total 16,14,777 candidates). 

“With the challenged clause, however, even resident OCIs that form a much narrower class of OCIs are forcibly put at par with Non-Resident Indians and are made eligible for admission only against NRI seats. Resident OCIs reside in India and their parents also live, work, and pay taxes in India.

Therefore, they do not share any characteristics with NRIs and the impugned notification leaves them gravely disadvantaged in pursuing professional education within India while their permanent residence and schooling undergone in India, simultaneously leaves them with limited opportunity to pursue professional education outside India. In essence, they are left with nowhere to go.” It added.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)