TN Governor returns anti-NEET Bill, says it’s against student interests

The Governor has given detailed reasons for the Bill's reconsideration by the House, a release by the Raj Bhavan said.
TN Governor returns anti-NEET Bill, says it’s against student interests
TN Governor returns anti-NEET Bill, says it’s against student interests
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Five months after the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Bill against NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test), Governor RN Ravi has returned it to the Assembly for reconsideration. A release from the Governor’s office said that after a detailed study, the Governor has found that the Bill is against the interests of the students, especially rural and economically poor students of the state. The Governor has given detailed reasons for its reconsideration by the House, the release added.

The Governor also cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in the  Christian Medical College case where the apex court had comprehensively examined the issue from a social justice perspective as well and had upheld NEET as “it prevents economic exploitation of poor students and is in furtherance of social justice.”

Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill in September 2021, which aims to do away with the requirement of NEET for admission to undergraduate medical and dental degree courses, and instead provide admission on the basis of the marks obtained in the qualifying examination (Class 12 examination) through normalisation.

Now that the Governor has sent the Bill back, the Tamil Nadu Assembly can consider the changes and pass a modified Bill or pass the same Bill again. Subash Kashyap, a constitutional expert had earlier told TNM, “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.”

The Bill requires the President’s assent before it can become a law. Governor RN Ravi, however, had been sitting on the Bill without forwarding it to the President. The DMK had called this delay by the Governor 'an insult to the sovereignty of the Tamil Nadu Assembly and cooperative federalism. In January, the ruling party called for the Governor’s resignation.

Last month, an all-party delegation led by DMK’s TR Baalu had called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and urged him to take appropriate measures to ensure the President's assent. The Tamil Nadu BJP had walked out of the all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister MK Stalin on January 8 in Chennai to discuss the pending Bill, saying that NEET is against social justice. 

Stalin, who earlier claimed NEET affected the dreams and aspirations of the rural and poor students in pursuing medical courses, had on January 12 appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "favourably consider" the state's request for exemption from NEET for students' admission to medical colleges.

Since the inception of the NEET examination, students, parents, teachers, and political parties in the state have been protesting to scrap the examination. The state had also witnessed multiple instances of students’ death by suicide, citing NEET as the reason.

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