Tamil Nadu special Assembly session on February 8

Chief Minister Stalin says Governor failed in constitutional duty.

Updated - February 06, 2022 07:48 am IST

Published - February 05, 2022 06:57 pm IST - Chennai:

A view of the Fort St. George, in Chennai. File

A view of the Fort St. George, in Chennai. File

A special session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly will be held at Fort St. George on February 8 to discuss the return of the Bill against NEET by Governor R.N. Ravi and adopt it once again, Speaker M. Appavu said here on Saturday evening.

Earlier, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin accused the Governor of failure in performing the duty vested with him by the Constitution while deciding on the Bill adopted by the State Assembly in September last.

Addressing a meeting of leaders of political parties represented in the Assembly, he said the meeting was convened to discuss the “unprecedented situation” created by the return of the Bill before the President could make a decision. (The Governor had returned the Bill to the Speaker instead of forwarding it for the President for assent.)

As per 143 of the Tamil Nadu Assembly Rules, when a Bill passed by the Assembly is returned by the Governor to the Assembly for reconsideration, the point or points referred for reconsideration or the amendments recommended shall be put before the Assembly by the Speaker and shall be discussed and voted upon in the same manner as amendments to a Bill, or in such other manner as the Speaker may consider most convenient.

Referring to the Governor’s argument that the Supreme Court had upheld NEET, the Chief Minister said the Bill was adopted by the Assembly that had the power to enact law “to reflect the aspirations of eight crore people”. “It is directly connected with the sovereignty of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. We sought an approval from the President since the [Supreme Court] judgment and the power of the Assembly are two different issues,” he explained.

The Chief Minister said the Bill to dispense with NEET-based admission to undergraduate medical courses was adopted in the Assembly on September 10 last on the recommendations of the Justice A.K. Rajan Committee and sent to the Governor. “The Governor should have forwarded the Bill to the President for assent. But he failed in his constitutional duty. I met him on November 27 and requested him to send it to the President. Subsequently, senior Minister Duraimurugan met him and pressed the issue on December 17,” he said. An all-party meeting was held on January 8 and a resolution was passed since the efforts to meet the Union Home Minister on the issue failed.

Mr. Stalin recalled that after the DMK government in 2006 passed a Bill for abolition of entrance tests for professional courses on the recommendations of late academic M. Anandakrishnan, the Governor and the President gave their consent in 86 days. He said the then Union Human Resource Development Ministry and Higher Education Ministry, while recommending the State’s law against entrance examinations, had said it stood the scrutiny of the Constitution.

“They also said cancelling the entrance examination would not affect the quality of higher education and the Plus Two examination was conducted in a transparent manner. They also made it clear that there was no objection to each State following its own honest and transparent admission policy,” he recalled. Mr. Stalin said the Union Health Ministry also approved it; Only thereafter did the President grant assent for the law.

He pointed out that the Madras High Court upheld the Act, saying it was a social welfare legislation to promote social justice. “We admitted students in medical and engineering colleges based on the marks scored in the Plus Two examinations for 10 years.” The Chief Minister said that while the then Governor and President gave their consent in 86 days for the Bill to abolish the entrance tests, the present Governor had allowed the Bill against NEET “to gather dust for 142 days” before returning it to the government.

“I reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bill seeking to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET when he inaugurated 11 medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. DMK Parliamentary Party leader T.R. Baalu subsequently met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in connection with the issue,” he said. At the multi-party meeting, which was boycotted by the AIADMK, the BJP and Puratchi Bharatham, it was decided to convene a special session of the Assembly to adopt the Bill afresh.

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