Day 4 Oral Hearings – Admission

Constitutional Rights of Overseas Citizens of India

November 8th 2021

A two-judge bench comprising Justices Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari continued to hear challenges to Section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (‘the Act’) on November 8th 2021.

The challenges have been filed by a group of OCI’s (Overseas Citizens of India). They claim that the provision gives the executive unchecked discretion to revoke their citizenship. They also argue that the Union Government is taking away rights previously granted to them.

In the previous hearings, the Bench heard challenges to a notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which requires OCIs to take admission in medical colleges only through NRI quota seats. This notification, released in March 2021, was issued under Section 7 of the Act.

In the first hearing, the OCI candidates argued that the decision to limit their admission to NRI seats was arbitrary because they did not have financial parity with NRI candidates. In the second hearing, the Union argued that OCIs were not Indian citizens and should not be able to compete for all seats. The Court decided that the short notice given to OCI candidates who challenged the notification was arbitrary and allowed the OCI petitioners to compete for General category seats under NEET in 2021-22.

Today, Advocate Apoorva Singh Parihar sought the same relief for Ms. Rangatharan, a NEET aspirant who was not one of the original petitioners granted permission to appear in the General category. The Bench considered enlarging the scope of its earlier order to allow all ‘similarly situated’ OCIs to compete for General category seats under NEET in 2021-22.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Government, argued that this would inconvenience the government. Since interim relief would be granted to all OCI candidates, and not just the applicants, the government will now be flooded with applications. Nazeer J reminded Mr. Mehta that these arguments had already been heard at length before granting interim relief. He stated that the OCIs had been allowed to appear in the general category only for one year, due to the sudden nature of the MHA notification. If the government had issued the notification in a timely fashion, the Court may not have been forced to intervene in this manner. Finally, the Bench allowed all OCI candidates to compete for general category seats in

Mr. Mehta requested that the main matter challenging the denial of general category seats to OCI candidates for the years to come be heard soon, so that the issue may be resolved before the next examination cycle begins. The Bench obliged. The matter will be heard next in the second week of January, 2022.