A Division Bench of the Supreme Court held that NRI quotas are not sacrosanct in medical admissions. The composition of the quota can be altered or deleted. This should happen after providing adequate notice to those students who want to join colleges through those seats.
Brief Facts of the Case
The Single Judge Bench of the Rajasthan High Court had held that the deletion of the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) quota was contrary to law. The Appellants took post-graduate admission in the State colleges of Rajasthan in pursuant of the same. Later, a Division Bench of the High Court ruled against the Single bench decision.
Following this, the present appeal was filed.
The Counsel contended that the action to withdraw the NRI quota is arbitrary. This sudden action was after calling the students to opt for such quota and the declaration of NEET test results.
The twin objective behind the creation of this quota is defeated. First, the quota enables “cross-subsidization” of seats, for the benefit of meritorious but poor students. Second, it enables students who have been schooled abroad to immerse themselves and find their roots in Indian society.
The Division Bench decision had made the candidates give up the seats in other medical colleges, to accept NRI seats. This had been prejudiced too.
The allotment of seats was to be made according to the merit of the candidates who had applied in the NRI quota. Also, the NRI quota could not apply in the facts and circumstances of the case. The institutions (private colleges) had not claimed any seats under the NRI quota, according to the seat matrices that were furnished by them in 2020.
Unaided private colleges are “entitled to autonomy in their administration” even when they are bound to make merit-based admissions.
The Bench stated that in P.A. Inamdar & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra (2005) 6 SCC 537, a provision for 15% NRI quota was not compulsory and that it was the only potential.
There is nothing in the judgment that states 15% NRI quota to be an unqualified and unalterable part of the admission process in post-graduate medical courses. It remains within the discretionary authority of the management of private medical colleges, within their internal policy-making domain.
The Bench opined that the Division Bench decision was correct to the extent that Single judge bench could not have directed admission of the candidates before it. Such a direction without a legal statutory duty cannot be taken. Hence, the NRI candidates could not assert a right to be admitted.
But the Bench also noted that the discretion of the private institutions should be reasonable. The directions of modification of any quota must be revised or modified within a reasonable time.
Yet, if a medical college or the state regulating authority decides to do away with a quota, reasonable notice of the decision should be given. This is to enable those aspiring to such seats to choose elsewhere on the prevailing conditions.
The private institutions are not obliged to maintain an NRI quota and can make private decisions in line with the statutes. But, such a decision must be communicated in time to the candidates applying for such seats in the quota.
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