No harm in Tamil Nadu govt forming a committee to study NEET exam impact, says Madras HC

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The Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a BJP leader, against the constitution of a 9-member committee led by Retd Justice AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) on medical aspirants. Filed by K Nagarajan, BJP State Secretary, the plea was seen as a tug of war between the Central-ruling BJP and the State-ruling DMK.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamaoorthy rejected the PIL, saying that a mere constitution of a committee could not be seen as an act of defiance to the Supreme Court Order on NEET Exam. It was added that the committee does not pose even the remotest challenge to the Constitution Right of the Central Government to fix standards for higher education.

The judges stated that the Committee was intended to start a discussion based on their findings and take it to a higher level to show the ill-effects of NEET. They noted that it doesn’t interfere, impinge upon or touch upon any Supreme Court order regarding the conduct of NEET exam for medical entrance. The Court also raised the matter that the committee had not submitted its report within the one-month time given to it.

The plea filed by BJP State General Secretary Karu Nagarajan had called the 9-member AK Rajan Committee unconstitutional, illegal, unfair and unreasonable. Nagarajan’s plea wanted the Court to restrain the Committee from proceeding further. It added that as per the 2017 Supreme Court ruling, the Tamil Nadu government was required to implement NEET exam for medical entrance.

During an earlier hearing of this plea(last month), the Court questioned the Tamil Nadu Government over whether it had sought or obtained the permission of the Supreme Court in this matter, as forming such a committee would be against the Supreme Court’s orders.

Back then, appearing on behalf of the State government, Advocate General Shanmugasundaram submitted that the committee formation was a policy decision taken by the government. He added that it was also backed by the DMK manifesto and the people’s demand. Responding to this, the first bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy had said “Maybe, but if it is contrary to the Supreme Court order, then it cannot be permitted”.

It was the ruling DMK’s election promise to abolish NEET if voted to power. DMK President MK Stalin had said that a law would be passed in the State Assembly to abolish NEET, following which the Indian President’s assent would be sought.

However, after having been elected to power, DMK leaders have been asking students from Tamil Nadu to prepare for the NEET exam, which is scheduled to take place in September this year.

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