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Tamil Nadu files plea in Supreme Court challenging compulsory clearance of NEET for admission in State Medical Colleges

The Tamil Nadu government has moved the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution of India, challenging the law that mandated clearing of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Examination (NEET) for admissions to medical and allied courses in state government colleges.

The petition sought the provisions prescribing NEET as criterion for admission to medical and allied courses to be declared as ‘ultra vires’ the provisions of the Constitution, violative of the basic structure of the Constitution and manifestly arbitrary being violative of Article 14.

Earlier in 2020, the Apex Court had upheld the validity of NEET in the case Christian Medical College, Vellore vs Union of India. The petition contended that NEET was upheld on the ground that it was required to curb the evil of unfair practices – granting admission based on paying capacity of candidates, charging capitation fee, large-scale malpractices, exploitation of students, profiteering and commercialisation. 

It said these grounds were not applicable in the case of admissions to Government seats and the reasoning of judgment was applicable only to private college seats.

The Supreme Court judgment of 2020 was not binding on the State regarding admissions to government seats, added the petition.

As per the Tamil Nadu government, the introduction of NEET was violative of the federal structure, as it took away the power of the States to admit students to Government Seats in medical colleges.

It said since NEET was based on the CBSE syllabus, it was indirectly compelling the schools and students in the State of Tamil Nadu to opt for CBSE/ NCERT board, which was violative of the federal structure.

Terming NEET as arbitrary and discriminatory, the petition contended that national level examination had adversely affected the students of Tamil Nadu, especially those coming from rural areas and from the State Board schools. 

It sought a decree declaring that Sections 14 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act, 2020 and the National Commission of Homeopathy Act, 2020, Regulations 9 and 9A of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, Regulations I(2), I(5) and II of the BDS Course Regulations, 2007 were violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Drafted by Advocate Devyani Gupta and filed by Advocate-on-Record Sabarish Subramanian, the petition was settled by Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, N.R. Elango, and Additional Advocate-General for Tamil Nadu Amit Anand Tiwari.

In 2021, the Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a Bill exempting government medical colleges from NEET. However, the Bill has not come into effect as the Governor forwarded it for President’s assent, which was yet to be granted.

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