Move Education Back to State List: DMK Moves HC in Fight for NEET Exemption
DMK contended that the implementation of NEET and the NEP will strike at the very root of the federal structure.
In an attempt to seek exemption from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exam, the ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday, 14 September, filed a petition in the Madras High Court.
Dr Ezhilan, the MLA from Thousand Lights constituency in Tamil Nadu, moved the Madras High Court challenging Section 57 of the 42nd Amendment Act 1976, under which Education was moved from the State List (List II of the Constitution) to Concurrent List (List III).
His plea argued that by transferring the subject of ‘Education’ from List II to List III, through the 42nd Amendment, the executive and legislative autonomy of the state governments in the matters of education has become subservient to that of the Union government.
This comes a day after the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, which seeks to stop medical admissions on the basis of NEET for students of the state.
The Act exempts medical aspirants in Tamil Nadu from taking NEET for admission to UG courses in medicine, dentistry, and homeopathy. Medical admissions in the state will be based on marks obtained by students in the Class 12 board exam.
NEET has always been a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu. On Sunday, 12 September, a 19-year-old student belonging to a Tamil Nadu village died by suicide, hours before he was supposed to appear for the entrance exam, that triggered a fresh debate in the state.
On Monday, 13 September, Chief Minister MK Stalin tabled the Bill in the Assembly and said, "This is being done to ensure social justice, uphold equality and equal opportunity, protect all vulnerable student communities from being discriminated and bring them to the mainstream of medical and dental education, and in turn ensure a robust public health care.
There have been reports of three student suicides in the past three days.
Why is DMK Challenging the 42nd Amendment?
Before 1976, education was under the state list, and so the states had the power to take decisions on syllabus and the procedure of admission.
However, during the Emergency, through the 42nd Amendment, this item was moved to Entry 25 of List III, which gave the Parliament the authority to legislate national universities, setting up of institutions and policies of education.
The Bill introduced by MK Stalin has challenged a central law and cannot become the law with the vote of the state Assembly alone.
Since there is ‘repugnancy’ or ‘conflict’ between a central law and a state law, the provisions of the central law will prevail. If the state law obtains the President’s assent, it will prevail over the central law.
The DMK has contended that the implementation of education policies like NEET and the National Education Policy, 2020 “will lead to a situation where the autonomy of the states in the field of education will be completely taken away, thereby striking at the very root of the federal structure”.
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