Published: 13th October 2021
Bombay HC's interim order spells good news for OCI cardholder appearing for JEE Counselling
A Bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar passed the interim order while hearing a plea filed by a student challenging a part of the notification issued on March 4, 2021, by the MHA
In an interim order, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday, October 12, permitted a student who holds an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card to appear for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Counselling for seeking admissions to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) under the General Category.
A Bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar passed the interim order while hearing a plea filed by a student challenging a part of the notification issued on March 4 this year by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). As per the MHA notification, OCI cardholders can lay claim to only Non-Resident Indian (NRI) quota seats in educational institutions based on all-India entrance tests such as NEET and JEE, among others. Senior Counsel Vineet Naik, who appeared for the petitioner, however, questioned the legal validity of the provision.
He argued that while the petitioner holds an OCI card, she is not an NRI and has completed her Classes X and XII from India. Naik said that she would, therefore, be seeking admission to one of the IITs under the General Category for the current academic year. The advocate argued that students such as the petitioner should be treated as General Category candidates and not as Foreign National candidates.
If they are considered as General Category candidates, they will be entitled for consideration of a larger pool of seats and courses — approximately 16,000 — as opposed to 1,600 supernumerary seats created for foreign nationals, Naik told the court. He cited a recent similar interim order of the Supreme Court whereby it had permitted an OCI cardholder to appear for NEET counselling under the General Category. The HC noted that a Bench of the Madras High Court too had passed a similar order recently.
Advocate Rui Rodrigues, who appeared for the MHA, the Education Ministry and the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSSA), told the Bench that the said notification had been issued by the Centre while exercising its powers under the Citizenship Act to specify the rights of OCI cardholders. The HC, however, said that considering the interim orders of the Supreme Court and the Madras HC, a similar interim relief could be granted to the petitioner.
“Having regard to the above (orders), we issue a notice. As an interim measure, we direct the respondents, particularly respondent number three (JoSSA), to declare the result of the petitioners in the JEE (Mains) and to permit them to appear for counselling in the General Category,” the HC said. The petitioner’s admission to the IITs will be subject to the final order of the court, which is expected on November 23.