The Karnataka High Court recently held that Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders need not seek admission only under the quota meant for Non-Resident Indian (NRI) students in professional educational institutions (medical/dental or engineering colleges), but are eligible for admission under institutional as well as State Government quota seats.
• The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
• According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh. This is the ground cited by the government in revoking the OCI card granted to Taseer, whose father was a Pakistani national. Taseer grew up in India, and holds a British passport and a Green Card in the US.
• OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) no matter how long their stay.
Overseas Citizenship of India Scheme
In response to persistent demands for "dual citizenship" particularly from the Diaspora in North America and other developed countries and keeping in view the Government's deep commitment towards fulfilling the aspirations and expectations of Overseas Indians, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005.
The Scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention 2006 at Hyderabad. The Scheme provides for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) of all Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who were citizens of India on 26th January, 1950 or there after or were eligible to become citizens of India on 26th January, 1950 except who is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify.
OCI is not to be misconstrued as 'dual citizenship'. OCI does not confer political rights. The registered Overseas Citizens of India shall not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
Constitutional rights of overseas citizens of India
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, an overseas citizen of India shall be entitled to such rights other than the rights specified under sub-section (2) as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
An overseas citizen of India shall not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India.
o under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
o under article 58 of the Constitution for election as President.
o under article 66 of the Constitution for election of Vice-President.
o under article 124 of the Constitution for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
o under article 217 of the Constitution for appointment as a Judge of the High Court.
o under section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950(43 of 1950) in regard to registration as a voter.
o under sections 3 and 4 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States, as the case may be.
o under section 5, 5A and 6 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the Legislative Assembly or a Legislative Council, as the case may be, of a State.
o for appointment to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State except for appointment in such services and posts as the Central Government may by special order in that behalf specify.
Every notification issued under sub-section shall be laid before each House of Parliament.
What was the issues?
OCI Cardholders had approached the High Court against the State Government for not permitting them to participate in online counselling for Government/private quota seats for MBBS/BDS/Engineering courses.
According to the state, only citizens of India were eligible to be registered for the purpose of counselling by the Examination Authority. In one of the cases, a single bench had held that OCI card holders are eligible for general quota seats under Karnataka's Common Entrance Test.
The writ appeal filed by the State against the single bench judgment and the writ petition raising similar issues were heard together by the division bench of the
Referring to statutory provisions under the Citizenship Act and notifications issued thereunder, the court observed that the amendment made to Section 2(1)(n) of 2006 Act is contrary to the Central Law and therefore, has to be struck down on the ground of repugnancy as per Article 254 of the Constitution.
The court said that the inclusion of the expression OCI Cardholder in the definition of Non-Resident Indian under Section 2(1)(n) of the 2006 Act being contrary to Notification dated 05/01/2009 is held to be repugnant and has to yield to the Central law.
The bench further noted that as per the Scheme of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2016, there is no distinction made in eligibility and qualification in respect of the seats under the control of the States, deemed universities, Central Universities etc., under which Indian nationals, Non- Resident Indians, OCI Cardholders, Persons of Indian Origin and foreign nationals and are treated on par
Thus, an OCI Cardholder cannot be treated on par with the Non-Resident Indian under Section 2(1)(n) of 2006 Act (State law), on account of the interpretation given to Notification dated 05/01/2009 and the State law will have to yield to the Central law, due to applicability of doctrine of occupied field and having regard to the repugnancy under Article 254 of the Constitution