Madras HC issues notice to TN govt on NEET panel

Madras High Court issues notice to Tamil Nadu govt on NEET panel

NEET is a highly emotive issue in Tamil Nadu as many believe the exam is discriminatory against students from rural areas

Madras High Court. Credit: iStock photo

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions into medical colleges is back on the centre stage in Tamil Nadu yet again. Weeks after the new DMK government constituted a committee to study the impact of NEET on students from disadvantaged sections, the Madras High Court on Tuesday raised questions over the panel.

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy wanted to know if the state government had sought the permission of the Supreme Court before constituting the committee. They also sought to know whether the move would not violate a Supreme Court verdict that made NEET compulsory for admissions into medical colleges.

The judges were hearing a petition filed by K Nagarajan, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu BJP, that sought to quash the constitution of the committee headed by Justice (retired) A K Rajan. The committee has held three meetings with stakeholders so far and has received over 80,000 petitions from people in the state.

Read | Panel studying impact of NEET asks for public comment

"Have you obtained the permission of the Supreme Court? Would it not amount to a violation of the ruling of the apex court?" the first bench asked, while Justice Banerjee observed that Tamil Nadu must fall in line and accept NEET since the Supreme Court has made it clear that the exam was mandatory.

Responding to the remarks of the first bench, Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram said the constitution of the committee headed by a retired judge was a policy decision of the DMK government. To this, the judges said, "Maybe. But if it is contrary to the Supreme Court order, then it cannot be permitted."

However, the court ordered notice to Tamil Nadu and Union Governments, returnable by a week.

The petition triggered a political slugfest with Health Minister Ma Subramanian accusing the BJP of adopting “double standards” on the issue. Except for the BJP, all other political parties in Tamil Nadu oppose NEET and want the exam to be dispensed with – the DMK had promised to do away with the exam of voted to power.

Opposition AIADMK has also asked the state government to clarify whether NEET will be held in Tamil Nadu this year.

NEET is a highly emotive issue in Tamil Nadu as many believe the exam is discriminatory against students from rural areas as they are made to compete with those from urban areas who have better education facilities and exposure.

More than 10 students have so far died by suicide after failing to clear the exam or in fear of the entrance test.

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