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NRI quota for NLU is unconstitutional, rules Orissa High Court

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Orissa High Court observed that the quota of reservation of seats in National Law Universities for Non-Resident Indians is unconstitutional.

The Division Bench of Justices S Panda and SK Panigrahi has made this observation while dismissing a Writ Petition filed by Ishika Patnaik challenging the inaction of NLU in not considering the application of the petitioner for admission to the 5-year BBALLB (Hons.) Course under NRIS category for the academic year commencing 2020.

The Petitioner applied for the entrance examination CLAT conducted by NLU. She wanted to apply under the NRI Sponsored quota category but due to the COVID outbreak at the residence place of the petitioner, she was unable to click/select the option for “NRI/NRIs Category” and selected the option for “General Category”. The petitioner logged the website on 15.8.2020 to make modification but the portal took a long time to open and she failed to upload and confirm the changes.

Senior Counsel for the Petitioner, B. Routray submitted that the Petitioner tried to modify her category from “General” to “NRI/NRIS” category but could not do so due to technical error in the CLAT website.

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The CLAT Exam was held and the petitioner appeared in the exam. The merit list has been published and the petitioner’s name was not found in the merit list where the candidates with lower rank than that of the Petitioner were in the merit list as against NRI/NRIS category, he further added.

Prafulla Kumar Rath, counsel on behalf of the NLU submitted that there are 21 seats under the “FN/NRI/NRIS category”. As per the merit list published, 21 candidates are already selected. So, it is not possible to consider the candidature of the Petitioner any further as she has not applied under “NRI/NRIs Category”.

The Court held that “Before parting with this case, we are constrained to observe that the NRIS category is an affront to the meritorious candidates who toiled day night to secure seats in NLUs through CLAT. The candidates belonging to the category of NRI/NRIS, who are very low ranked in the merit list often gets seat in the NLUs whereas the general candidates having secured better marks also lag behind the NRIS students and get disappointed. This is like the reservation for the elite class and this dubious category of quota is unconstitutional. The eligibility and selection under this category are unregulated, illegal and arbitrary.”

“Admissions under this category is given to less meritorious students just because they could afford to pay the higher fees demanded by the University. The Consortium of NLUs, the Bar Council of India and all the stake holders involved in the process should revisit the so-called NRIS quota and prepare a proper regulation and system while implementing this quota,” Citing the Judgement of the apex court in P. A. Inamdar vs. State of Maharashtra the High Court remarked.

In light of above observation the Court disposes of the writ petition ,”that since all the seats under “NRI/NRIS category” has already been filled up by the opp. Party No. 1 and no further seats are available, we are not inclined to entertain the Writ Petition.”

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