The Tamil Nadu Assembly made history on Tuesday, February 8, by unanimously re-adopting the Bill against NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Exam) that was returned by Governor RN Ravi. Governor RN Ravi had recently returned the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill to the Assembly, saying that it goes against the interests of students hailing from poor economic backgrounds. It is for the first time in its 70-year history that the Tamil Nadu Assembly is unanimously re-adopting the same draft of a bill without amendments.
Now that the Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed the same Bill again, the Tamil Nadu Governor cannot reject it for the second time. The Governor has to give his assent and send it to the President. The Bill requires the President’s assent before it can become a law.
The DMK had earlier lashed out at the Governor for sitting on the Bill for four months after it was passed in the Assembly, in September 2021. After the Governor returned the Bill, the DMK had called for Governor RN Ravi’s recall.
Addressing the Assembly during a special session held to consider the anti-NEET Bill, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said, “The assembly had sent it to the Governor. He should have accepted it and sent it to the President. But, he did not decide anything and kept it in his possession for 142 days and after repeated insistence, it has come back to us again”.
“NEET did not fall from the sky, it was introduced to stop many poor students from getting educated,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said in his speech during the assembly session on Tuesday. He added that “NEET was beneficial to only the private coaching centres, and the anti-NEET bill was passed by the assembly for the benefit of those poor students who cannot afford such training.”
The Tamil Nadu Assembly had in September 2021 passed the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, after a committee under Justice AK Rajan submitted a 193-page report on the entrance examination and its impact on rural, poor and marginalized students in Tamil Nadu. The Bill was passed in the Assembly on September 13, and sent to the Governor RN Ravi who had to forward it to the President for assent.
However, on February 4, Friday, the Governor returned the Bill to the Assembly, calling it “anti-poor.” This caused a huge uproar within the state, with several MLAs pointing out that the Governor did not possess the constitutional authority to accept or return this Bill, and only had the power to forward it to the President for assent.
With the Assembly once again re-adopting the same Bll, the Governor is now required as per the Constitution to give assent to the document and forward it to the President. “If the Governor sends the Bill for reconsideration and the government after reconsideration sends it back to him then he has to give his assent and send it to the President,” constitutional expert Subash Kashyap had earlier explained to TNM. The Bill now requires the President’s assent before it can become a law.