Tamil Nadu

Do you have proof of T.N. having received NEET Bills: HC to Centre

Court grants time till August 1 for Union Home Secretary to file an affidavit

The Madras High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre whether it was in possession of any acknowledgement to prove that the State government had received way back in September 2017 the authenticated copies of its two anti-NEET Bills that were reportedly returned by the Union Home Ministry after the President withheld his assent to them.

The query was raised when a batch of public interest litigation petitions came up for hearing before a Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad. The judges asked senior Central government panel counsel A. Kumaraguru if there were any documents to substantiate the claim of the Bills having been returned to the State.

When the counsel expressed his difficulty in answering the question without any specific instructions from the Home Ministry, the judges sought to know the answer from the State government. However, they could not elicit any answer from the State too, since Government Pleader (in-charge) Jayaprakash Narayan was not present in the court hall.

Later, the judges adjourned the cases to August 1 for the filing of an affidavit by the Union Home Secretary, as directed by them on July 5, setting out details regarding the dates on which the Bills were withheld and returned to the State government. They refused to go by an affidavit filed by Raju S. Vaidya, an officer in the rank of Deputy Secretary in the Ministry.

Though Mr. Kumaraguru said the Home Secretary could not file the affidavit as he was busy with the ongoing Parliament session in New Delhi, the judges refused to accept that, and insisted that the affidavit should be filed only by the official to whom the direction had been issued, and not by his subordinates.

Bringing uniformity

The Centre had, in 2017, done away with different procedures followed in different States for admitting students in medical colleges, and introduced a common entrance exam called the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) by amending the Medical Council of India Act of 1956, which was a Central legislation.

However, in order to circumvent the Central law and to obtain an exemption from NEET for students from Tamil Nadu, the State legislature passed the Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill and the Tamil Nadu Admission to Postgraduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Bill in February 2017.

Since the State Bills were repugnant to the Central law, they required Presidential assent under Article 201 of the Constitution and, accordingly, got forwarded to the Centre for obtaining such assent. It was at this juncture that the four PIL petitions were filed in the High Court in 2017, seeking a direction to the government to obtain the Presidential assent at the earliest.

After gathering dust for the last two years, the cases were taken up for hearing earlier this month, and the court was told that the President had withheld his assent to the Bills on September 18, 2017, and that they were returned to the State government on September 22, 2017. The disclosure led to a furore in political circles.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:37:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/do-you-have-proof-of-tn-having-received-neet-bills-hc-to-centre/article28692735.ece

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