A 17-year old Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) who had appeared for the NEET (undergraduate) medical entrance examination and accordingly applied for government seats in the MBBS course for the academic year 2019-20, has moved the Gujarat High Court after she was denied admission by the committee concerned on the ground that she is an overseas citizen of India.
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the state government and the Admission Committee for Professional Undergraduate Medical Educational Courses (ACPC) in this regard, and a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
The petitioner, who has been staying in Gujarat since 2014, had requested the ACPC this month to consider her case. The petitioner has now prayed for the court’s directions to grant her admission to MBBS and other courses to the government seats, if otherwise eligible. Meanwhile, she has sought interim relief to allow her to participate in the admission process and secure a seat, if otherwise eligible, or to alternatively set aside one seat to the medical college to which she would have secured admission, if she were considered eligible.
The petitioner has submitted that Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Courses (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) Rules, 2017 was amended in May 2018. The amendments opened up admissions to OCIs for MBBS courses without any restriction. On June 15, this year, two further amendments were brought in. Firstly, the domiciliary requirement for persons born in Gujarat was dispensed with and second, the words “or overseas citizens of India” were dropped from a relevant sub-rule.
The scheme of admissions in various medical colleges, except for AIIMS and JIPMER, is such that 15% of seats in each government medical college/institution is filled-up by an All India quota while the rest of the 85% seats are filled-up by the respective states. These 85% seats are commonly referred to as the state quota. In addition, there are management seats as well as Non-Resident Indian (NRI) seats.
Moreover, the petitioner has also mentioned in her application that the ACPC’s rejection does not hold in light of a Central Government’s Ministry of Home Affairs notification of April 11, 2005. The notification had stated, “OCI shall be entitled parity with Non-Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields, except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.”
In fact, the Gujarat HC had passed an order in this regard, while acting on a similar dispute regarding denial of admission to OCI students, under the 85 percent seats through NEET, in a 2018 petition. A division bench of then Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, and Justice Vipul Pancholi passed an order on August 10, 2018, wherein the court had made a few observations.
The order stated, “In view of the above said notification (April 11, 2005 notification of central government) and the amendments made to the Citizenship Act, prima facie, it is clear that Overseas Citizens of India be given the same benefit in education in parity with NRIs. It is not in dispute that NRI claimants, apart from their NRI quota of 15%, are also entitled to seek consideration under 85% of seats, subject to fulfilling the criteria fixed in the rules of admission.”
Moreover, a July 2018 letter wherein the state government had directed ACPC to consider the OCI students only against the NRI seats and also to charge them fees at the same rate as NRIs, was also stayed by this division bench in its August 10, 2018 order.
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the state government and the Admission Committee for Professional Undergraduate Medical Educational Courses in this regard.