Tamil Nadu & NEET

Madras High Court says Tamil Nadu committee on NEET not against Supreme Court order and setting it up 'not an act of defiance'

Published : July 13, 2021 18:35 IST

Justice A.K. Rajan (right) holding a meeting of his committee on the impact of NEET in Tamil Nadu, along with State Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan (left) and panel members, in Chennai. Photo: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B.

The Madras High Court, on July 13, ruled that there was nothing to prevent an elected government from forming a committee to study the impact of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil Nadu and that such a committee was not against the order of the Supreme Court on NEET.

The Madras High Court, on July 13, ruled that there was nothing to prevent an elected government from forming a committee to study the impact of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil Nadu and that such a committee was not against the order of the Supreme Court on NEET. This effectively put to rest the political controversy surrounding the issue. The formation of the committee, the High Court said, was “not an act of defiance” of any order of the Supreme Court; nor did it “pose the remotest challenge” to the right of the Union government to achieve a higher standard of education.

Passing its judgment on the case filed by BJP State secretary Karu Nagarajan, challenging the constitution of the Justice A.K. Rajan Committee by the Tamil Nadu government to study the impact of NEET, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said that the court could not interfere in the policy decision of the government to solicit the views of the people. Such work was not against the rules of the Central government on the issue either. It was not a wasteful expenditure.

The Chief Justice had one question to those aligned against the committee: How is the constitution of the A.K. Rajan Committee against any verdict of the Supreme Court? The Chief Justice asked why it was wrong for the State government to examine what impact NEET has had on students so that it could argue its case better.

The Chief Justice observed that the case had a lot of traction in the media, and that all the impleading petitions too had a good run in the media. The Chief Justice decided not to hear all the impleading petitions because these were of a similar nature. This included the petition of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the ruling party in Tamil Nadu.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had, on June 10, announced the constitution of the A.K. Rajan Committee in order to study the impact of NEET on admission to medical courses in Tamil Nadu. Its recommendations are expected to protect the welfare of socially backward students. The committee was given a month’s time. Soon after this, the committee asked the people to e-mail their views to neetimpact2021@gmail.com, or send them by post to the committee to Director of Medical Education’s office in Kilpauk, by June 23.

The government will have to issue fresh orders on the committee’s time frame. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced on July 12 that NEET (for undergraduates) would be held on September 12, which many experts believe is around when the third COVID-19 wave is likely to hit India. The Minister was criticised for this move, but he said that the COVID-19 protocol would be maintained.

The Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which implemented NEET across the country following a Supreme Court order, has steadfastly refused to give Tamil Nadu any respite despite repeated pleas. While NEET was not held in the State as long as Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister, after her death in 2016, the BJP managed to bulldoze its way through a weak AIADMK government and held the examination. Over the years since then, more than a dozen students, unable to take the stress, have died by suicide in the State. The DMK, in its election manifesto, promised to put an end to the NEET mode of admission to medical colleges.

Education experts have recorded a massive mushrooming of coaching centres since the implementation of NEET across India and have noted that many of the poorer students will not be able to compete with those who can afford the coaching. Well-known Career consultant Jayaprakash Ganshi noted on Twitter, on June 9, 2021: “When NEET was introduced in Tamil Nadu even I supported but within a year I changed my mind seeing the mushroom growth of NEET coaching centres. The importance of school board exams coming down, I strongly felt the purpose of NEET is defeated. Wish the Tamil Nadu government works strongly to abolish NEET.”

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