The Tamil Nadu government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination (NEET) for medical admissions. The government alleges that NEET, a single-window common test for admission to medical courses in colleges across the nation, violates the principle of federalism.
The state also sought a declaration that the provisions that prescribe NEET as the criterion for admission to medical and allied courses are "ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution of India, violative of the basic structure of the Constitution, and are manifestly arbitrary being violative of Article 14," as reported by LiveLaw.
Tamil Nadu Government files an original suit in #SupremeCourt against the Central Government challenging #NEET saying NEET has adversely affected students of TN.#SupremeCourtOfIndia pic.twitter.com/IXG1bTmEkK— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 18, 2023
The NEET is a pre-medical entrance test for admissions in undergraduate medical courses such as MBBS and BDS and also for post-graduate courses in government and private medical colleges. It was introduced by the erstwhile Medical Council of India in 2010 and has witnessed opposition from some state governments since then, including Tamil Nadu.
The Supreme Court had upheld the validity of NEET in 2020. Tamil Nadu argues that NEET was upheld on grounds that it was required to curb the evil of unfair practises such as granting admission based on paying capacity of candidates, charging capitation fee, large-scale malpractices, exploitation of students, profiteering, and commercialisation. Such grounds, however, are not applicable to admissions in government seats.
The reasoning is only applicable to private college seats, the state argued adding the verdict upholding the NEET does not bind a state in so far as admissions to government seats are concerned.
The lawsuit filed by the state contends that NEET is violative of the federaal structure, as it takes away the power of states to admit students to government seats in medical colleges. It further said that schools and students are indirectly compelled to opt for CBSE/NCERT syllabus as NEET is based on the same, according to the report by LiveLaw.
The government also said that the exam is challenged as arbitrary and discriminatory as students from rural areas and state board schools are at a disadvantage. The suit seeks 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 respectively are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, violate federalism and therefore void”.
The Tamil Nadu government had earlier passed a Bill in 2021 exempting government medical colleges from NEET, but it is yet to receive the mandatory Presidential assent.
(With PTI inputs)