The Supreme Court has allowed a writ petition filed by a US National who appeared for the NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) on the ground that her eligibility to claim benefit of OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card Holder is undeniable.

The petitioner sought relief under Article 32 of the Constitution as she was aggrieved by the rejection of candidature to a Post Graduate medical seat. The respondent had rejected her application after she was allowed to appear in the written examination and the results were declared for the NEET (PG) and the INI-CET/2023.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Aravind Kumar held, “In the present case, although the OCI Card relied upon by the petitioner on 04.08.2022, the fact that she was in fact issued the OCI registration card first, on 02.11.2015. In such circumstances, the petitioner’s eligibility to claim the benefit of OCI card holder in terms of the ruling in Anushka (supra) is undeniable. The rejection of her candidature at this stage, i.e. on 19.06.2023 is not supportable in law.”

The Bench also referred to the case of Anushka Rengunthwar & Ors. V. Union of India & Ors. [2023 SCC Online SC 102].

Senior Advocate Vinay Navare appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Advocate Atul Kumar appeared on behalf of the respondents.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Nodal Agency for the NEET test/examination, called for applications from eligible candidates by publishing a prospectus for NEET process and the petitioner applied. She was an OCI card holder and a U.S. National. The prospectus published by the respondents stipulated the eligibility conditions and in addition, for Foreign Nationals, No Objection Certificate was also deemed essential which was to be issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

The petitioner secured 96.73% having overall rank as 1902 and the merit list also recognised her in OCI category. She was thereafter informed that she would be treated as Foreign National as she disclosed her status to be OCI candidate and hence, was allotted ‘pediatrics’ discipline in AIIMS. However, suddenly after some days, she was informed that she would no longer be treated as OCI candidate but would be considered in the category of ‘Indian National’. Being aggrieved by this, she was before the Court.

The Supreme Court in the above regard said, “… undoubtedly the petitioner was treated as a foreign national and allowed to appear in the NEET mains- as OCI cardholder; she even secured a fairly high rank. She was allowed to participate in the mock rounds of allocations which led to an indication that she would be offered PG in Paediatrics in AIIMS and just before the first round of counselling she was informed that her status would no longer be as a foreign national and that she would be treated as an Indian national.”

The Court noted that the petitioner is consequently directed to be considered in remaining counselling rounds by the AIIMS and all participating institutions for PG Medical seats.

“It is clarified that the consideration would be regarding seats that are unfilled on the date of this judgment whether reserved for SC/ST/OBC or other categories and such as specially earmarked for Bhutanese candidates etc. if they can be filled by other candidates, like her. Furthermore, this facility should be open to the petitioner as well as other candidates based upon the available records of those issued OCI cards prior to 04.03.2021 and who can participate in such counseling having regard to their performance in the NEET test, and their ranking”, added the Court.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the writ petition.

Cause Title- Pallavi v. Union of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 782)

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