A bench of Justices SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari of the Supreme Court on Monday permitted all eligible Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) candidates to participate in general category NEET counselling. The interim relief is limited to the current academic year 2021-22, they added.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier issued a notification that OCI candidates be treated at par with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for NEET admissions. The apex court was hearing a plea by OCI candidates challenging the notification.
"The applicants and all other eligible candidates who are similarly situated are permitted to appear in the counselling in the General on par with Indian Citizens to pursue MBBS/BDS courses and other undergraduate/Post Graduate courses in approved/recognised Medical/Dental & other Colleges/Institutes. It is made clear that the aforesaid interim relief is limited to the academic year 2021-2022 only," the bench said. The bench also told Additionally Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati that the National Testing Agency and counselling authorities are duty-bound to implement the order. Though Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested that the relief be limited to the petitioners who approached the court, the court said that the relief is solely for the 2021-22 academic year.
"We want to clarify one thing. We have made it very clear that it's only for the academic year 2021-22 only. We heard the matter in length while we passed the interim order. We've done this because of the suddenness of the notification. If you would have issued the notification eight-nine months earlier we wouldn't have passed such an order," the bench said. The matter has been posted for hearing in the second week of January 2022.