SC says NRI quota in professional, technical courses not sacrosanct

Candidates under the quota cannot assert their right to be admitted, says court in a judgment

Private colleges and institutions that offer professional and technical courses have a complete discretion to do away with their Non-Resident Indian (NRI) quota of seats after giving reasonable prior notice, the Supreme Court held on Friday.

NRI quota was not sacrosanct. Candidates under the quota cannot assert their right to be admitted, the court said in a judgment.

“Private colleges and institutions, which offer professional and technical courses, have some elbow room: They can decide whether, and to what extent, they wish to offer NRI or management quotas”, a Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat observed.

Change in seat matrix

The 28-page judgment came in an appeal against the change in seat matrix introduced in private medical and dental colleges in Rajasthan for post-graduate courses. The colleges could completely eliminate the NRI quota for 2020-21 academy year. The colleges argued in court that the NRI seats would not be filled during the pandemic. Besides, many NRI candidates have been considered for the management seats on the basis of merit.

The verdict referred to the seven-judge Bench decision in P.A. Inamdar, which held that 15% NRI quota was “not compulsory” but “only potential”.

“It was, and remains, within the discretionary authority of the management of private medical colleges, within their internal policy making domain”, Justice Bhat, who wrote the verdict, observed.

Sceptical about NRI quota

He said the apex court had consistently been sceptical about the NRI quota. That was why the court had suggested limiting the quota to 15%.

The judgment quoted from the Constitution Bench verdict in the Inamdar case, which said the term ‘NRI’ in relation to admissions was itself a “misnomer”.

“Neither the students who get admissions under this category nor their parents are NRIs. In effect and reality, under this category, less meritorious students, but who can afford to bring more money, get admission… The money brought by such students enables the educational institutions to strengthen its level of education and also to enlarge its educational activities”, the judgment quoted.

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