Constitutional Rights of OCIs #7

Constitutional Rights of Overseas Citizens of India

Today, a Bench comprising Justices Abdul Nazeer and V. Ramasubramanian heard two connected petitions in the challenge to the Ministry of Home Affair’s (MHA) notification barring Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) from seeking employment in a number of professional fields. Senior Advocate Vikas Singh appeared representing OCI NEET candidates who have been restricted to admissions to medical colleges through the Non-Residential Indian (NRI) quota following the MHA notification. Sr. Adv. Devadutt Kamat appeared on behalf of two OCI candidates who have been barred by the same notification from pursuing a ‘super speciality’ in medicine after they finished their post-graduate education. 

The case was last heard on May 20th, 2022. On this date, the Court ordered the Kerala government to allow OCI candidates to apply for medical admissions through the NRI quota without requiring them to show proof of foreign residence. 

Undergraduate and postgraduate OCI Candidates Face Restrictions in Medical Admissions

The Bench asked Sr. Adv. Vikas Singh why the candidates couldn’t change their citizenship in order to apply for medical admissions through the general category. Mr. Singh stated that for many of the OCI candidates this wasn’t an option as applicants are usually 17 years old when they apply. He used the example of Malaysia which doesn’t allow individuals to give up their citizenship before they turn 21 years old. 

Sr. Adv. Devadutt Kamat argued that OCI candidates seeking to pursue degrees for super speciality were barred from applying for the examination. He argued that OCI candidates were being allowed to apply through the NRI quota for undergraduate admissions, but those applying for super speciality were not receiving the same benefit. 

The Bench asked ASG Aishwarya Bhati, appearing on behalf of the Union of India, why these candidates were being barred from writing the exam for super speciality. She responded stating that there is no reservation provided to anybody for super speciality including NRI’s. 

Justice Ramansubramanian asked Mr. Kamat how the candidates were meant to apply through NRI quota when they were not Indians. Chuckling, Justice Nazeer referred to them as ‘resident non-Indians’. 

At the request of Mr. Singh, who insisted that his matter and Mr. Kamat’s were similar, the Bench agreed to hear arguments for these petitions on September 7th, 2022.