In the latest move to voice resistance to the common entrance test for admissions into medical courses across the country, the government of Tamil Nadu has filed a fresh writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order to declare the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) unconstitutional. This is Tamil Nadu’s first independent petition challenging the amendments made by the government of India in the Medical Council of India Act and the Dental Council of India Act making NEET a mandatory and the sole criteria for admitting students to medical and dental courses in the country.
The petition filed on Saturday states that NEET is against the welfare of students from rural backgrounds in Tamil Nadu and provides instances by which NEET has adversely affected a major share of students in the state.
Speaking to TNM about the newest petition, a highly placed source in the government of Tamil Nadu said that the petition has data to explain why the state has been demanding an exemption from the entrance exam.
“Tamil Nadu predominantly has rural students than students in urban areas. The number of students in government schools is also very high. Most students study the Tamil Nadu state syllabus. We could see that after the implementation of NEET, the number of students from state government syllabus who are getting into government medical colleges had drastically gone down, whereas more students from CBSE and other central syllabus are getting admission,” the source says.
The government of Tamil Nadu has also stated that the number of repeaters who have been giving NEET for the second or third time and cracking the exam is on the rise, which puts students from rural and underprivileged backgrounds in the disadvantage.
Adding that Tamil Nadu has been successfully producing exceptional medical professionals even before the advent of NEET, the source said that all the petitions pending in the Supreme Court around NEET date back to 2010-11.
“Those petitions were filed when the government of India announced NEET through a notification. After that the Supreme Court scrapped NEET and then the government of India brought in the amendments. Since the amendments were passed, there have been no petitions against it. So we took the opportunity to file a writ petition before the court,” the source explains.
However, the state government’s decision to approach the court with a writ petition has evoked sharp responses from the opposition.
DMK President and Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu MK Stalin issued a statement on Sunday accusing the AIADMK government of staying silent all this while and then rushing to file a writ petition when NEET-UG registration ends in two days.
“Edappadi Palaniswami has knocked the doors of the Supreme Court in a day-drama to hide his government’s failure to get Presidential assent to two bills passed in the state assembly against NEET,” the DMK statement said.