Rule stopping OCI candidates to apply for general seats applicable only from notification date: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court held that Centre’s decision to stop OCI candidates from applying in general category for admissions will be applicable from March 4, 2021 only.

Rule stopping OCI candidates to apply for general seats applicable only from notification date: Supreme Court Supreme Court (Source: Shutterstock)
Vagisha Kaushik | Feb 6, 2023 - 5:35 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court said that the government's decision restraining the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) to apply for general category seats in Indian entrance tests such as National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main and JEE Advanced will apply prospectively from the date of the notification issued on the matter which is March 4, 2021. The top court was delivering the judgment on a batch of petitions filed by OCI candidates against the 2021 notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to treat them at par with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for admission.

Justices A S Bopanna and CT Ravikumar held, “Though the impugned notification dated March 4, 2021 is based on a policy and in the exercise of the statutory power of a sovereign state, the provisions as contained therein shall apply prospectively only to persons who are born in a foreign country subsequent to March 4, 2021, that is, the date of notification and who seek for a registration as OCI cardholder from that date…”

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The top court allowed all the petitioners to enjoy rights and privileges conferred on them before the publication of the notification. SC observed that the notification lacked application of mind and resulted in deprivation of rights of those candidates who secured OCI cards before March 4, 2021.

The apex court further observed that the OCI candidates undertook their entire education or at least high school onwards from India and thus cannot be turned back to their birthplace to secure higher education as they would not be able to compete with the students in that country.

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The Centre had told the court that the reason behind putting out the notification was to save seats for the Indian students. However, SC said that there is no material on the actual exercise that Centre undertook to arrive at the decision that OCI candidates are depriving Indian students of admissions.

Notably, in 2021, the Supreme Court had permitted all eligible OCI candidates to participate in general category NEET counselling for undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses for the academic year 2021-22 only.

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