The Madras High Court has asked why the Tamil Nadu government kept the state and the Legislative Assembly in the dark for almost two years about the President rejecting NEET Bills. The Bills, which were passed in the Assembly seeking exemption from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test and sent to the President for his assent in 2017, were sent back to the state government in September 2017.
According to reports, Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad recorded these observations on Thursday, while hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations filed two years ago. These PILs sought the court to direct the government to obtain Presidential assent for the exemption Bills at the earliest. During the hearing, the counsel for the Central Government submitted that the Bills were rejected by the President on September 18,2017. The judges, taken aback by such a submission, directed the Union Home Secretary to file an affidavit listing down the sequence of events that happened around these Bills.
The two bills -- Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill and the Tamil Nadu Admission to Post Graduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Bill â€“ sought to exempt students from Tamil Nadu from taking NEET for admission into medical colleges.
The Union Home Secretary, in his affidavit, stated that the Centre received the two Bills on February 2, 2017 and were circulated to the concerned ministries for comments. In March, the central government asked for a clarification on the Bills from the state government for which the reply was received in April that year. Another set of doubts were clarified between the Centre and the state in May and finally the Bills, with the comments of the different ministries, were sent for Presidentâ€™s approval in September 2017. After the President withheld his assent for the Bills on September 18, 2017, the Bills were returned to the state government on September 22, 2017 and the state government acknowledged the receipt of the Bills on October 25, 2017 when it wrote to the Centre, seeking to know why the Bills were rejected.
The judges, on Thursday, stated that the Law Secretary of Tamil Nadu cannot feign ignorance about the return of the Bills, especially when he wrote to the central government in October 2017 asking why the Bills were rejected. â€śYou cannot also claim that such an important issue was not taken to the notice of the Minister concerned,â€ť the bench said. The court directed the government of Tamil Nadu to file its response to this question by August 13.
Presidential assent is mandatory for the Bills passed by the state seeking exemption from NEET because it goes against the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. This Act makes the conduct of medical admissions through NEET mandatory.