Out of TN’s jurisdiction to form NEET panel: Centre
Chennai: In a preliminary affidavit filed with the Madras high court, the union government said that it is out of the jurisdiction of Tamil Nadu to constitute Justice AK Rajan committee to study the impact of NEET on socially backward students
Chennai: In a preliminary affidavit filed with the Madras high court, the union government said that it is out of the jurisdiction of Tamil Nadu to constitute Justice AK Rajan committee to study the impact of NEET on socially backward students.
The court had asked the union government to indicate its stand on the issue after a PIL was filed against the committee by Tamil Nadu BJP’s state secretary Karu Nagarajan seeking to quash the same as unconstitutional, illegal, unfair and without legal justification.
The reply affidavit was filed by Chandal Kumar, under secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which was circulated on late Wednesday. The case is being heard by the bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy. The next hearing will be on July 13 where the DMK-led government is a respondent and several parties who have requested to be impleaded as party to the case will be heard.
The Union government has cited a Supreme Court judgement, several legislative provisions under National Medical Commission Act, 2019 and the constitutional lists to make its case that the committee is neither requisite nor valid.
The affidavit submitted that the field ‘medical education is regulated statutorily under a Central legislation i.e. the NMC Act. “Accordingly, nothing inconsistent or contrary can stand legally,” the Indian government’s affidavit read. “Therefore, the State cannot constitute a high level committee to study the impact of NEET on Medical admissions.”
The Centre stated that the committee was going into an issue that is already settled. “The Supreme Court has already upheld the validity of NEET against the anvil of the Equality Code contained in the Constitution,” the affidavit read. “It was held without a pale of doubt that the conduct of NEET examinations is not in contravention to Article 14 nor is it against the socio-economic polity of the Country. In spite of the same, the Term of Reference of the Committee seeks to question whether NEET is an equitable method of selection. This reference is not only a slight against the status and privilege of the Supreme Court but is also an exercise in futility as the law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all functionaries by virtue of Article 141 of the Constitution of India.”
A judgement by the Supreme Court on April 2020, in the matter of Christian Medical College Vellore Association Vs Union of India and others held that the provisions of uniform examination of NEET in the Act and Regulation is not opposed to social principles prescribed in the Constitution and India’s social fabric.The judgment said, “The NEET has been prescribed by the legislature in the larger public interest that has to prevail. We find the provisions to be reasonable conditions of recognition/ affiliation that are binding for the very existence of all such institutions whether they are run by majority or minority failing which they cannot exist and impart education.”
The Centre further added that entry 65 of the Union list provides coordination and determination of minimum standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions. “The subject ‘medical education’ is under the Concurrent List (Entry 25) of the Constitution of India,” the affidavit read. “The Legislation framed by the State under Entry 25 is subject to the Entry 65 of the Union List. Therefore, Article 162 makes it clear that the Executive power of the State government is coterminous with the legislative power of the state.”
NEET is an emotional issue in Tamil Nadu since several medical aspirants have died by suicide. It has gone through several legal wrangles before it entered the state in 2017. Until then Tamil Nadu considered class 12 board exam marks for admissions into medical colleges. Abolishing NEET is an election promise of the two-month old DMK-led government and this issue is supported by opposition parties, including the AIADMK as they are of the view that NEET puts rural and poor students at a disadvantage. In the previous AIADMK regime, a horizontal reservation of 7.5% in medical colleges was made for government school students who clear NEET. After elections, Tamil Nadu government on June 10, constituted the Justice A K Rajan committee.