In order to facilitate admissions into medical colleges for the current academic year 2020-2021, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday issued a government order allowing 7.5% horizontal reservation for government school students who have cleared NEET for admissions into medical courses. While the Bill was passed in the Assembly by the state government in September this year, the Governor’s nod was awaited. While the Governor deliberated and delayed, seeking three to four weeks’ time, the state got legal advice that they should pursue the executive route, instead of the legislative route.
“The above horizontal reservation shall be provided in each category of vertical reservation followed in the State of Tamil Nadu within the 69% reservation from the academic year 2020-2021,” the GO or Government Order says. Legal experts say that the GO can be implemented like a law because there is a legal precedent for that (MR Balaji And Others vs State Of Mysore on 28 September, 1962) but there is no clear picture on whether a state government can pass a GO while a bill on the same issue is pending with the Governor.
According to the GO, the decision has been taken keeping in mind the urgency of the situation and executive directions under Article 162 of the Constitution of India have been used. “Since the NEET-Under Graduate results have now been declared and the admission process has started, there is an urgency to decide on this issue and since the power to issue executive directions under Article 162 of the Constitution of India is co-extensive with legislative powers, pending decision of the Hon'ble Governor, the Government hereby has taken the following policy decisions and issue orders accordingly,” it says in the GO.
The above setting apart of seats on a preferential basis is applicable to the state quota seats in all Government Medical/ Dental colleges and all courses for which NEET has been prescribed as an eligibility criteria and to the seats allotted by the State Government in the Self Financing Medical Dental Colleges, minority and non-minority and under all disciplines.
If there are no further legal hurdles, the executive order will come as a relief for many students across the state. The Governor's delay had become a matter of debate with both the ruling party and opposition asking to give assent quickly as admissions were being stalled. The state’s opposition leader MK Stalin had announced protests outside Raj Bhavan demanding his immediate assent.
A five-member delegation of the government had met the Tamil Nadu Governor urging him to expedite his decision on the NEET reservation. Following this, DMK president MK Stalin wrote to the Governor. The PMK founder Ramadoss, however, criticised the delay and even opined that removing the post of Governor will be of no loss to the nation.