The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered notices returnable by July 5 to the Centre and the State government on a writ petition challenging the constitution of the Justice A.K. Rajan committee to study the impact of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) on medical admissions in the State.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy accepted a request made by Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram to grant him time to file a counter affidavit. The judges ordered that the papers should also be served on Additional Solicitor General R. Sankaranarayanan to ascertain the Centre’s stand.
K. Nagarajan, State general secretary of the BJP, had filed the writ petition. His counsel V. Raghavachari said NEET was introduced from the academic year 2017-18 to ensure merit-based admissions to medical colleges in the country. Nevertheless, the State government had been attempting to seek exemption from it through every possible means.
On June 22, 2017, a government order was issued, stating that medical admissions in the State would be conducted based on Plus Two marks for the academic year 2017-18 if the President grants assent before the release of the rank list to a Bill passed in the Assembly on February 1, 2017. Otherwise, it was decided to follow NEET marks for admissions during the year.
While taking such a decision, the G.O. also stated that 85% medical seats shall be filled up with State Board students and 15% with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students.
When this issue was taken to the Supreme Court, a three-judge Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy dealt with the case.
The Bench, on August 22, 2017, ordered that the “State of Tamil Nadu shall not make any kind of distinction or discrimination between the examinations conducted by various Boards; and admissions shall be effected as per the result of the NEET examination.”
After reading out the Supreme Court’s order, Mr. Raghavachari said the State government had now embarked on a wasteful expenditure of public money by constituting a committee to study the impact of NEET, when the Supreme Court had categorically held that Tamil Nadu should fall in line with other States in the country and follow only NEET marks for medical admissions.
The Chief Justice said the constitution of the committee might end up to be an exercise in futility, when the Supreme Court had insisted upon medical admissions based on NEET alone. He also said the State government should have obtained the leave of the Supreme Court before constituting the panel.
In reply, the Advocate General told the court that the committee had been constituted following a policy decision taken by the court and to fulfil an electoral promise made by the ruling party. The A-G added that he would answer all those questions by way of a counter affidavit next week.