New Delhi: The NEET exam conducting body National Testing Agency (NTA) has revised the eligibility criteria for Indian candidates abroad seeking MBBS, BDS or AYUSH admissions in Indian institutes. Now, Indian candidates abroad including foreign nationals, Indian nationals, NRIs, Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), and People of Indian Origin (PIOs) are all eligible for admission to MBBS, BDS and AYUSH colleges via the NEET entrance test subject to respective rules and regulations.
The confirmation of this effect comes from a recent notification released by National Testing Agency (NTA) on its official website wherein a corrigendum has been issued on the eligibility criteria for Indian medical aspirants living abroad.
Last month, the NTA amended the eligibility criteria only for the OCI candidates. However, now as per the recently revised guidelines, Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), Indian nationals, NRIs, People of Indian Origin (PIOs) and foreign nationals are all eligible for admission in MBBS, BDS, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy colleges in India.
According to the earlier guidelines, the OCI Cardholder (including a PIO card holder) is a foreign national holding passport of a foreign country and is not a citizen of India. So, these candidates were treated as foreigners and were only eligible for NRI seats or a supernumerary seat only, and not for Indian national Seats including paid seats of deemed universities i.e. OCI cardholders were not eligible for admission to any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens.
The criteria has been modified based on the Supreme Court judgment passed in February this year.
Back on March 4, 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the concerned notification and states that OCI candidates could only apply for NRI quota seats or supernumerary seats for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test. As per the latest gazette notification, dated 04.03.2021, the OCI cardholders “appearing for the all India entrance tests such as National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, Joint Entrance Examination (Mains), Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) or such other tests” would be “eligible for admission only against any Non-Resident Indian seat or any supernumerary seat”. This way, the OCI cardholders won’t be eligible for “admission against any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens.”
However, the matter came to be challenged before the Supreme Court and issuing an interim relief to the OCI Candidates, the top court bench had allowed them to participate in the general category of NEET Counselling for the academic year of 2021-2022.
It was argued by the petitioners that the students born to OCI parents, who have been staying in India, can not be compared with the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), as the NRIs live abroad and they earn foreign currency. However, several OCI families stay in India, pointed out the counsel for the petitioners.
On February 4th 2023, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Central Government rule of barring the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders to apply for general category medical seats will be applied prospectively from the date on which the rule was implemented.
However, the top court bench of Justices A.S Bopanna and C.T Ravikumar held that “shall apply prospectively only to persons who are born in a foreign country subsequent to 04.03.2021 i.e. the date of the notification and who seek for a registration as OCI cardholder from that date since at that juncture the parents would have a choice to either seek for citizenship by descent or to continue as a foreigner in the background of the subsisting policy of the Sovereign State.”
“We further hold that the petitioners in all these cases and all other similarly placed OCI cardholders will be entitled to the rights and privileges which had been conferred on them earlier to the notification dated 04.03.2021 and could be availed by them notwithstanding the exclusion carved out in the notification dated 04.03.2021,” further read the order.
In its recent notice, the NTA issued a corrigendum on the clause Clause 5.2.2 of the Information Bulletin of NEET (UG) 2023 dealing with the Eligibility of OCI Cardholders for NEET 2023 and stated:
In pursuance of the Judgment dated 03.02.2023 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in W.P(C) 891/2021 and connected matters and in supersession of earlier corrigendum dated 31.03.2023 on the subject, aspiring OCI Candidates of NEET (UG) 2023 are hereby informed that the amended provision of Clause 5.2.2 of the Information Bulletin of NEET (UG) 2023 dealing with the Eligibility of OCI Cardholders for NEET (UG), shall be read as follows:
“Indian Nationals, Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), Persons with Indian Origin (PIO) and Foreign Nationals are eligible for admission in Medical/Dental/Ayurveda/Siddha/Unani/Homeopathy Colleges subject to rules and regulations framed by the respective State Governments, Institutions and the Government of India as the case may be”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs vide Notification dated 4 March 2021 specified the rights to which an OCI cardholder shall be entitled under the Citizenship Act, 1955. Clause (4) (ii) of the said Notification reads as under:
“(4) parity with Non-Resident Indians in the matter of-
(ii) appearing for the all India entrance tests such as National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, Joint Entrance Examination (Main), Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced), or such other tests to make them eligible for admission only against any NonResident Indian seat or any supernumerary seat: Provided that the OCI cardholder shall not be eligible for admission against any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens.”
The above Notification provides the following Explanation:
“The OCI Cardholder (including a PIO card holder) is a foreign national holding passport of a foreign country and is not a citizen of India.”
Similarly, the PIO cardholder and foreign nationals shall not be eligible for admission against any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens. Hence, OCI/PIO will be treated as foreigners and be eligible for NRI seats only and will not be eligible for Indian National Seats including paid seats of deemed universities.