CHENNAI: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday dashed off another letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating the demand for expediting Presidential assent for the two Bills unanimously adopted by the State Assembly for excluding Tamil Nadu from NEET examination for medical courses. He also sought to clarify certain apprehensions being raised about these Bills.
On April 20, the Chief Minister wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard.
Quoting many judgments that have upheld the legislative competence of the State to enact legislation under Entry 25 of List III (Concurrent list) which covers “Education, including technical education, medical education and universities”, the Chief Minister pointed out that the Tamil Nadu government was well within its legislative competence to enact a legislation to exempt Tamil Nadu from the application of NEET.
Recalling that Presidential assent was granted to the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institutions Act, 2006, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to speed up the Presidential assent for the two pending State Bills, namely, the Tamil Nadu Admissions to Post Graduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Bill, 2017 and the Tamil Nadu Admissions to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill, 2017, under Article 254(2).
Seeking to clarify doubts over the two Bills, Palaniswami said, “There is an apprehension that as the amendments in the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948, introducing NEET have been made to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment over the NEET issue, Presidential Assent to Tamil Nadu’s two Bills on the issue would go contrary to the Supreme Court judgment on the issue.”
He also said there was another interpretation that introduction of NEET was purely within the legislative competence of the Union, as it was covered by Entry 66 of List I (Union List), which deals with co-ordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions.
In this regard, the Chief Minister pointed out that the Tamil Nadu government had already obtained a detailed legal opinion citing various Supreme Court judgments, including the judgment of the Constitution Bench of the SC in the Modern Dental College and Research Centre Vs the State of Madhya Pradesh (2016) 7 SCC 353, wherein it had been specifically mentioned that Entry 66 in List I would not include conduct of examinations and admission.
“In fact, Justice R Banumathi delivering a separate concurring order as part of the five-member bench categorically stated, “In fact, the State government should be the sole entity to lay down the procedure for admission and fee etc., governing the institutions running in that particular State except the Centrally funded institutions like IIT, NIT etc., because no one can be a better judge of the requirements and inequalities in opportunities of the people of a particular State than the State itself. Only the State legislation can create a level-playing field for the students who are coming out from the State Board and other streams.”
The Chief Minister, referring to the judgment of Madras High Court dated April 17, said a piquant issue had now arisen. The court had directed the Tamil Nadu government to follow Regulation 9 (IV) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 by adding 30 per cent marks to the marks secured by the petitioner in the NEET examination while preparing the rank list for admission to the postgrduate courses for the academic year 2017-2018 holding Regulation 9 as the only effective and permissible basis for granting admission to in-service candidates. “If this procedure is followed, out of the 556 postgraduate government seats available under the State quota in Tamil Nadu, only 206 seats would go to in-service quota candidates,” he added.
The Chief Minister further said the direction to follow the MCI Post Graduate Regulations, 2000, which had not been amended to reflect the assurances given by the Centre was preventing the State government from implementing its admission policy for State quota seats in the postgraduate courses based on NEET-PG. “This is bound to have consequences on the provision of quality healthcare to needy people in rural and remote areas,” Palaniswami observed.