CHENNAI: Governor RN Ravi has returned the Bill seeking exemption from NEET for Tamil Nadu on many grounds and found the report of the AK Rajan Committee which is the basis for the Bill is utterly unconvincing. He also said the report merely reflected the “ jaundiced view” of the committee. Besides, the Governor has profusely referred to the Supreme Court verdict upholding NEET given in the case Christian Medical College Vellore Association V. Union of India.
“When the Supreme Court has found NEET to be in the national interest and also for the protection of the weaker section of the society, will it be open for the State government to seek an exemption from NEET, particularly in view of the fact that the same has been held to be mandatory and applicable across the country?,” the Governor asked in his communication to the Assembly Speaker while returning the Bill for the reconsideration of the House.
“The NEET scheme has been held by the SC to be in complete conformity with the Constitutional scheme. Articles 46 and 47 referred to by the SC address the issues of social justice at large and particularly concerning the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and weaker sections. Public health is also a major component of the same,” the Governor said.
Stating that the Bill is not in the interest of the students of the State and the House needs to deliberate in detail on these relevant issues, the Governor said he had returned the Bill as per Article 200 of the Constitution.
The Governor is of the view that the report of the AK Rajan Committee which studied the impact of the NEET on medical admissions in Tamil Nadu, is based on several unsubstantiated sweeping assumptions.
The ‘sweeping assumptions’ of the committee include - NEET is directionless and anti-merit; it enables and empowers comparatively low performing students to get admission to MBBS; it has paved way for the entry of poorly skilled candidates who are financially and socially strong and thus will make the medical profession dominated by poor quality professionals besides it discourages complex thinking and higher order of skilling compared to the State board examinations.
The Governor has also disputed the report that NEET is heavily biased in favour of physics, chemistry and biology instead of being open to testing "all possible knowledge" as in the State board examinations.
“It is beyond argument that the medical profession is a highly specialised discipline of science in which a reasonably sound knowledge of the basics of physics, chemistry and biology is a prerequisite. The Report taking adverse note of tests in these essential subjects and instead introducing an undefined concept of "all possible knowledge" appears bizarre and without merit,” the Governor said.
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Statistics cited in the AK Rajan report show that during the pre-NEET years only some 30-38 students (hardly one per cent) from the government schools were able to get admission to government medical colleges.
“ It reflects the sorry state of affairs in the government schools which cater mostly to the poor students. Ignoring this crucial fact coming in the way of social justice the report instead goes off the tangent and blames NEET,” the Governor contended.
Referring to the argument put forth by the AK Rajan committee report against NEET on the ground that it is against social justice as it allegedly favours the rich students who take advantage of coaching which the poor cannot afford, the Governor said “ The report has totally ignored the fact that coaching skews the State board results also.”
The Governor quoted portions of the Supreme Court verdict, saying, the Supreme Court, in Christian Medical College Vellore Association Vs. Union of India (2020) has examined threadbare the prescription of NEET - a common examination system for admission to MBBS, PG, BDS and MDS. After elaborate discussion on the issue, the court had upheld the NEET on many grounds.
The SC had held that the NEET is definitely prescribed to improve medical education, co-related to the improvement of public health and it is a step in furtherance of the duty of the State enshrined in the directive principles of State policy contained in Article 47 of the Constitution of India.
Citing Article 46 which aims at the promotion of the educational and economic interests of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections, the SC verdict had said: “By prescription of one equivalence examination of NEET, the interest of their merit is also equally protected and its aims of preventing various malpractices, which crept into the system and prevent economic exploitation by selling seats with which malady the professional medical education system suffered.”
Citing a portion of SC's verdict, the Governor said, The SC had also referred to Article 51-A(j) which deals with the duty to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.
“For that purpose, recognition of merit is necessary, and one has to be given a full opportunity in pursuit of his/her aim. The prescription of NEET is to provide equal opportunity and level launching platform to an individual to perform his duty as enshrined under Article 51-A(j),” the SC verdict said.