New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday held that the NRI quota in private medical colleges is not sacrosanct, but the institutions intending to do away with it must give reasonable notice to the aspirants.
A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhatt said: “It is evident that the NRI quota is neither sacrosanct, not inviolable in terms of existence in any given year, or its extent. However, if a medical college or institution or, for that matter, the state regulating authority, such as the board in the present case, decide to do away with it, reasonable notice of such a decision should be given to enable those aspiring to such seats to choose elsewhere, having regard to the prevailing conditions.”
The top court noted that as a part of the private colleges’ autonomous decision making, they could set apart some percentage of seats for admission to students of their choice. “The NRI candidates could not assert a right to be admitted,” it said.
The NEET PG Medical and Dental Admission/Counselling Board issued a notice doing away with the NRI quota, and as a result, the candidates, who have applied for NRI seats, will be considered based on eligibility criteria in the absence of the quota.
Two candidates had challenged this decision in the Rajasthan High Court, where a single judge bench, citing the the verdict of the top court’s seven judge bench, said the candidates had already qualified the NEET PG examination and qualifying it, and after having approached the colleges for NRI seats, can’t be deprived of admission in the NRI quota.
The single judge also directed their immediate admission to the colleges.
However, this decision was reversed by the high court’s division bench, which held that private colleges can do away with NRI quota, and instead fill the management quota by considering NRI students.
The top court noted that as per its verdict, four crucial elements in the NRI quota are: “One, the discretion of the management (whether to have the quota or not); two, the limit (15 per cent); three, that seats should be available for genuine and bona fide NRI students, and lastly that the quota was to be filled based on merit.”
The top court observed that the respondent management possessed the discretion to indicate whether, and to what extent, NRI reservations could be provided.
“It was, and remains within discretionary authority of the management of private medical colleges, within their internal policy-making domain. The impugned judgment, in this court’s opinion, is correct, in that it held that the single judge could not have directed admission of the candidates before him,” the bench said.
The top court suggested that to do justice to all the parties, a special counselling session should be carried out by the board, and seats shall be offered to the NRI applicants solely on the basis of merit.
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