In a historic move, the Tamil Nadu government unanimously passed the bill against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) on Tuesday, 8 January, after it was reintroduced in the state Assembly.
The resolution piloted by Chief Minister M K Stalin, was adopted amid thumping of desks.
This is the first time in the history of the state legislature that the house readopted the same draft of the bill.
The state government called for a special sitting at Fort St George on Tuesday. The bill sought exemption for the students from the state from the NEET examination and that admission of students to medical colleges will be on the basis of their class 12 scores.
On 3 February, the Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi had returned the bill saying, "It is against the interests of the students, especially the rural and economically poor students of the state."
The MLAs of all parties, barring four members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who walked out, backed the bill.
"It is a historic day today, where we all joined together not just to discuss NEET but to safeguard federalism, democracy, defend the right of the state Assembly and to win over the educational right. Till we win we will not give up this fight against NEET.”Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin
The Anti-NEET Bill
The state government called for Tamil Nadu to be exempted from NEET examination for admission into undergraduate courses in medicine, dentistry, Indian medicine, and homoeopathy. The bill sought to provide government school students with a 7.5% horizontal quota in medical admission.
The special sitting was convened after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin chaired an all-party meeting barring the BJP, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and its allies.
In February 2017, a similar bill was adopted by the house under the AIADMK dispensation but President Ram Nath Kovind, seven months later, had decided to withhold assent to it.
High-Level Committee Report on NEET Has a ‘Jaundiced View:’ TN Guv
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi had said that the report merely reflected “the jaundiced view” of the committee, headed by retired Justice AK Rajan, who had been appointed by the Tamil Nadu government.
The governor, in his letter, said the report was based on “several unsubstantiated sweeping assumptions.” He said that the report had called NEET directionless, anti-merit, and had said it paved the way for poorly skilled candidates who were financially and socially strong, and thus made the medical profession dominated by poor quality professionals, discouraged complex thinking and higher order of skilling, compared to the state board examinations.
“When the Supreme Court has found NEET to be in national interest and also for the protection of the weaker sections of 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.
He returned the bill for reconsideration of the house and stated that the Assembly needed to deliberate on these issues.
Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M Appavu and MK Stalin questioned the delay in the governor returning the bill. "Former Justice AK Rajan's committee submitted a report and based on the report we passed the NEET bill except for the support of four BJP MLAs. The Bill reflected the view of the whole house so the Governor should have sent the Bill to the President. However, he sent back the Bill after 142 days but his explanation for sending back the Bill is not right,” he said.