NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to prevent any agitation over the NEET examination issue in the state where protests have intensified after the suicide of a Dalit medical aspirant.
The court also directed the government to prosecute under appropriate law anyone indulging in any activity that creates law and order problem and stalls normal life in the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said every citizen of the country has a fundamental right to peacefully protest and demonstrate but they cannot cause a situation that results in violence and paralyses the law and order situation.
"As an interim measure, it is directed that it shall be the obligation of the chief secretary, government of Tamil Nadu and the principal secretary, ministry of home, government of Tamil Nadu, to ensure that law and order is maintained throughout the state in the wake of the present situation in respect of the NEET examination," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
"The chief secretary shall see to it that anyone involved in any kind of 'bandh' or activity that disrupts the normal life and detrimentally affects law and order in the state of Tamil Nadu, shall be booked under the appropriate law," the top court said.
The court also issued notices to the chief secretary and the principal secretary seeking their response on a plea seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu government to maintain law and order and ensure that protests over the death of 17-year- old girl S Anitha do not disrupt normal life.
The bench observed that National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) has already been upheld by the apex court.
"We may clearly state here that a peaceful protest or criticism or dissent is different from creation of a law and order situation. Every citizen of this country has a fundamental right to peacefully protest and demonstrate, but not to cause a situation that results in violence and paralyses the law and order situation," the order said.
Anitha had committed suicide on September 1, a week after the top court ruled that medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu will be based on the national admission test.
The apex court directed that a copy of the petition be served to the standing counsel for Tamil Nadu and fixed the matter for further hearing on September 18.
During the hearing, advocate G S Mani, a petitioner in the case, told the bench that protests and agitations were being carried out by political parties and individuals over the NEET examination and the state should be asked to maintain law and order.
Referring to the apex court order, he said the court has already held that medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu would be based on NEET and the state was under obligation to ensure that normal life of the citizens was not disrupted due to these agitations and protests.
Mani said that due to the agitations and rail and road blockages, normal life of citizens has been jeopardised and people were facing immense difficulty due to this.
He also claimed that political parties and individuals cannot be allowed to hold protests against the order passed by the apex court in NEET matter.
He argued that neither the political parties, nor any group or any individual can take law into his own hands and obstruct the movement of vehicles or people at large by creating a law and order situation.
The suicide of the girl has led to widespread protests in Tamil Nadu with many protestors being detained. The petitioner has also sought a judicial inquiry into the suicide.