Supreme Court says the decision by Centre to bar OCI students from general seats operates prospectively from 2021

A notification has been issued by the Supreme Court, on Friday, which held that notification of the Central Government in 2021 that took away the rights of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) category students for applying for general seats and confined it to Non-Resident Indians (NRI) category seats would be applied prospectively from the date of the notification, which is March 4, 2021.

As per this OCI students before 04.03.2021 will not be affected and all pre-existing rights are saved.

An interim order was passed allowing certain OCI petitioners to apply for general category seats for 2021-2022 academic year.

Justice AS Bopanna while pronouncing the judgement said that these admissions have been and regularised
all prior to 04.03.2021,can retain their rights. Subsequent to 04.03.2021, these notification applies.

The detailed judgment is not uploaded on the website yet.

Last year, the Apex Court had passed an interim order allowing OCI candidates for applying to general seats for NEET admissions.
 The Court however clarified that the interim order was confined only to the 2021-2022 academic year.

 In the current  academic year, instead of granting interim relief, the Supreme Court said that it would hear the matter at length and finally decide the same.

Advocate P. Chidambaram, who appeared on behalf of the OCI students, submitted that while classification is allowed, micro-classification has been frowned upon by this Court.

The counsel pointed out that, while those with OCI status are eligible only for NRI seats, NRIs can apply for NRI as well as Indian seats. It had been argued that till 2020, the OCI students were considered for general category seats.

Senior Advocate K.V. Vishwanathan, who appeared for students who are born to OCI parents submitted that OCIs can't be compared with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), as the NRIs are living abroad and are earning in foreign currency.

Many OCI families are staying in India.The Senior Counsel explained that OCI was a concept introduced by the Government of India in 2005 to confer certain rights to persons of Indian origin, who may have foreign citizenship.

The scheme was started to encourage people with Indian origin having foreign citizenship to settle in India and seek their services here.

In some cases, children may have obtained foreign citizenship when they were born abroad while their parents were working there. They might have returned to India later; they might have been brought up in India, but still have the OCI status due to their foreign citizenship.

It was also said that the number of seats in medical is very low and fees is very high which cannot be afforded by OCI students in India.

ASG Aishwarya Bhati ,representing the Union Government said that the petitioners are trying to compete in the seats meant for Indian citizens, who have no avenues outside, whereas the OCI students can get citizenship rights abroad.

During the course of the hearing the Bench had asked the Senior Counsel for the OCI students why they are not giving up their foreign citizenships to compete in the general category for admission .

The counsel replied that the rights had been in existence for long, there is a legitimate expectation and the sudden withdrawal of the rights is arbitrary.
 It was also mentioned that many OCIs chose to settle in India on the basis of the rights conferred under Section 7B.

Mr. Vishwanathan had contended that the Centre's notification is painting all OCIs with the same brush, without considering persons who have been residing in India for long should be reconsidered.