TN govt to challenge Governor RN Ravi's decision to return NEET Bill

Chief Minister MK Stalin has convened an all-party meeting of legislative leaders on February 5 to decide the future course of action.
RN Ravi in Raj Bhavan wearing a black suit and specs
RN Ravi in Raj Bhavan wearing a black suit and specs

The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu plans to challenge the Governor’s decision to return the NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) Bill, which seeks to do away with the entrance test for admissions to undergraduate medical, dental and homeopathy courses in the state.  Governor RN Ravi on Thursday, February 3, returned the Bill back to the Assembly. A press release from the Raj Bhavan stated that the Bill worked “against the interests of the students, especially the rural and economically poor ones in the state”. 

Soon after the Governor’s decision, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that he was convening an all-party meet of legislative leaders to decide the future course of action. In the Lok Sabha, some MPs from Tamil Nadu urged the Union government to withdraw the Governor from his post, for his action which they said was violative of his constitutional powers. The MPs reportedly raised slogans in the house in protest. 

Reacting to the statement, DMK MP P Wilson, who is a former Additional Solicitor General of India, told TNM that the Governor’s act of returning the Bill was in defiance of the constitutional powers granted to him. “The Governor does not possess the power to examine the Bill or return the Bill. He can merely forward it to the President for assent. It is only the president who is authorised to examine the Bill and approve or reject,” the MP explained. 

‘CMC Vellore judgement not applicable’

The Governor, in the press release, cited the Christian Medical College, Vellore vs Union of India (2020) judgement, where the Supreme Court upheld NEET after “comprehensively examining it from the social justice perspective, stating that the exam prevents economic exploitation of poor students and is in furtherance of social justice.” 

Countering this argument, Wilson says that the facts and circumstances of the CMC Vellore judgement is irrelevant to the NEET Bill issue. 

“CMC Vellore’s writ petition was to quash the TN State Selection Committee’s letter on a 50-50 to reserve 50% of the seats (state quota) to UG and PG courses in CMC Vellore. The Supreme Court quashed this writ petition, and stated that the minority institution has to admit students from the minority merit list prepared by the TN government, and cannot follow its own admission procedure. It was a minority students admission issue which is not relevant to the Bill tabled in the Assembly asking for NEET to be done away with and for students to be admitted based on their Class 12 marks,” Wilson added

The MP added that there are two methods of recourse — first is for the House to communicate to the Governor, bringing to his attention that this act of examining the Bill was against the powers and responsibilities stipulated in the Constitution, secondly, the House can reconsider the Bill, make amendments if necessary and return it to the Governor, who will then have no choice but to forward it to the President for assent.

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