Private Colleges Can Abolish NRI Quota: Supreme Court

Yesterday, in its latest Judgment the Supreme Court held that Private Colleges can abolish the NRI Quota.

The petitioners, in this case, challenged the change in seat matrix for admissions to postgraduate medical seats in the state of Rajasthan. By a notification seats offered under NRI quota were eliminated.

Brief Facts of the Case

On 14.04.2020 the NEET PG Medical & Dental Admission/Counseling Board had issued a notification that there will be no seats available under the NRI quota. The petitioners in the case who had cleared the Neet exam and were offered the seats under the NRI quota challenged the notification before the Rajasthan High Court. 

They informed the Court that they had already received a notice which stated that they should be ready for online counselling for Nri seats. They further stated that the NEET PG Counselling Board had deleted the seats offered under the NRI quota without providing any reason. 

Another notification was released by the Board that stated that NRI seats would be considered under the management quota.

The single learned Judge ruled that as the petitioners had appeared for the NEET exam and had also qualified it, they cannot be deprived of their choice of admission in NRI seats by the respondents through the process of deletion of the NRI quota seats altogether. 

 It was also opined that there could be no distinction made between NRI and management seats. The Court directed the Board that the petitioners should be given admission to medical college as per their rank.

Various third party appeals were filed against the order of the hon’ble single Judge.

A division bench of the Rajasthan High Court allowed the appeals and held that no student could claim the right to a quota(NRI). A reference was also made to P.A. Inamdar & Ors. Vs the State of Maharashtra( which was relied on by the hon’ble single Judge) and it was stated that the judgment did not indicate that medical colleges were under no obligation to reserve seats for NRI quota candidates. It was further held that allotment of seats should be left at the discretion of the colleges.

The appellants challenged the order of the Division Bench and moved the Supreme Court.

Contentions raised before the Supreme Court.

Learned counsel for the appellants argued that the action of the Board to delete the NRI quota seats was arbitrary. It was clear that there were going to be seats under NRI quota and applications were invited for the same. It was further stated that the Board and MGMC could not go back on decisions at such a late stage.

Another counsel who appeared for a candidate stated that NRI seats serve a dual purpose. The first is to support the college by earning them higher fees. The second is that the higher fees are used for poor students’ scholarships. It was also stated that NRI seats help Indian students who have studied abroad to learn about the culture of India.

It was further argued that based on the decision of Hon’ble Single Judge, seats were offered to candidates but because of the order passed by the division bench, their admission was in jeopardy.

The counsel for the respondent state argued that NRI quota should not be applicable in the present case and the seats should be allotted as per the merits of the candidates be it under management quota or NRI quota.

It was further argued that the decision to do away with NRI quota seats was taken because of the ongoing pandemic.

Counsel for the fourth respondent argues that candidates who were granted admissions in the NRI quota, after the single Judge’s directions, were considerably low in merit. They were given undeserving benefit, entirely because of erroneous directions by the single Judge, who could have at best required the Board to consider NRI candidates, based on their merit, in the NEET process.

Supreme Court’s Analysis

The Supreme Court observed the fact that out of the 427 that were notified by private colleges, the college MGMC had earmarked 22 seats for NRI quota students but later on when the seat matrices were published the NRI quota seats were omitted.

Hon’ble Supreme Court also took notice of the fact that as per minutes of the meeting held 17.03.2020, all the colleges were of the unanimous opinion that 15% of total seats would be reserved for NRI quota students and those seats will be filled before management quota seats. However, when the final matrix of seats was sent to the Board, the seats reserved for NRI students were absent.

Hon’ble Judges delved on the issue of the omission of NRI seats and seemed to agree with the reason that was given by private colleges that the omission was warranted based on their assessment that most of the NRI seats will be vacant because there will not be many applicants.

The Supreme Court held that the management of private colleges, MGMC in this case,  possessed the discretion to indicate whether, and to what extent, NRI reservations could be provided. On the issue that the P.A. Inamdar case will be applicable in this case, the Court observed that there was nothing, in that case, to suggest that the 15% reservation for students cannot be altered.

Hon’ble Supreme Court concurred with the order passed by the Division Bench and stated that the Hon’ble Single Judge should have sent the matter to the Board. The Court acknowledged the fact that due to the order of Learned Single Judge, many students have availed admission to medical colleges. In order to be fair to all the parties, a special counselling session should be held where students who were admitted to colleges because of the order of learned single Judge, will be provided admission based solely on their merit and the seats which will be left will be offered to other candidates.

Case Details:-

Title: NILAY GUPTA VERSUS CHAIRMAN NEET PG MEDICAL AND DENTAL ADMISSION/COUNSELLING BOARD 2020 AND PRINCIPAL GOVT. DENTAL COLLEGE & ORS.

Case No. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3345/2020

Date Of Order:09.10.2020

Coram: Hon’ble Justice L. NAGESWARA RAO Hon’ble Justice S. RAVINDRA BHAT

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