After five years, TN Assembly passes ‘legally sounder’ bill to ban NEET

Express News Service

CHENNAI: After a gap of five years, the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday passed yet another legislation to dispense with the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET). The two legislations enacted by the AIADMK regime previously in February 2017 had been rejected by the President.

The Bill, quoting the report of the committee headed by retired judge AK Rajan, said NEET fosters inequality as it favours the rich and more privileged classes of society who are able to afford special coaching.

“It virtually barricades the underprivileged social groups from medical and dental education. This is against the very object of the equality clause enshrined in the Constitution, and it also infringes the right to education of the children from these underprivileged classes of society,” the Bill said, quoting the report of the AK Rajan committee.

The Bill, introduced by Chief Minister MK Stalin, sought to allow medical admissions based on the marks scored in Plus Two examination instead and adjusted through the normalisation method. It was passed by voice vote. Barring the BJP, an ally of the AIADMK, all parties in the House supported the Bill. Government school students will have a 7.5 percent reservation under this Bill.

Incidentally, the Bill has been passed by the Assembly a day after Dhanush, a NEET aspirant, committed suicide in Mettur.

Though the AIADMK staged a walkout blaming the DMK government for the death of the NEET aspirant, Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami extended his party’s full support to the Bill during the discussion and the Chief Minister thanked Palaniswami for the same.

Asserting that the Bill introduced by him is legally sounder than the two Bills that were passed during the AIADMK regime, the Chief Minister said the committee headed by retired Judge AK Rajan that studied the impact of NEET on medical admissions in Tamil Nadu had recommended, among other things that the State Government may pass an Act similar to that of the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institutions Act, 2006 (Tamil Nadu Act 3 of 2007) indicating the need for elimination of NEET at all levels of Medical Education and get the President’s assent for the same.

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Introducing the Bill, the Chief Minister charged that the Union Government had spoiled the medical education dreams of Tamil Nadu youth for the past four years through NEET and many students had given up their lives in protest against NEET.

The Bill pointed out that even before 2017, Tamil Nadu had one of the highest numbers of medical and dental educational institutions and the medical and dental professionals graduating from these institutions were among the finest. Therefore, merely because admission is done on the basis of a qualifying examination in this State, it would in no way lower the standard of entrants since the higher secondary syllabus places a big emphasis on imparting scientific learning.

Furthermore, if the marks are adjusted through a normalisation method, it would provide a just, fair and equitable method of admission.

Admissions to medical education courses are traceable to Entry 25 of List III, Schedule VII of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the State is competent to regulate the same.

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The Bill also said the move would ensure social justice, uphold equality and equal opportunity, protect all vulnerable student communities from being discriminated against, and bring them to the mainstream of medical and dental education, and in turn to ensure a robust public healthcare across the State particularly the rural areas.

The Bill also said it is evident from the Committee’s report that NEET is not an equitable method of admission. The experience of the past four years of NEET has shown that the exam has shattered the hopes and dreams of Tamil Nadu students aspiring for admissions to medical and dental courses, particularly, students from the socially and economically backward classes.

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