Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has returned the Bill passed by the Assembly exempting students from taking the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, or NEET, for admission to undergraduate medical courses in the state, The Hindu reported.

The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill was passed in September. It sought to admit students to these courses based on the marks they earned in the Class 12 board examinations. Earlier, admissions to medical colleges in Tamil Nadu were based on these marks, but the Centre in 2017 made NEET compulsory for students across all states and education boards.

The governor said that the Bill is against the interests of the students, especially those from rural and economically poor backgrounds, The Hindu reported, quoting a press release from the Raj Bhavan.

The Bill was returned to the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly on February 1 for its “reconsideration by the House”.

The governor studied the Bill and the report of a high-level committee that the state government had formed to study the impact of NEET on students.

During the Republic Day speech, the governor had said that NEET had led to an increase in the enrollment of government school students in state-run medical colleges, according to NDTV.

But, the findings of the Justice AK Rajan Committee had stated that NEET discriminated against tribal, rural and oppressed students as it did not consider Class 12 marks and promoted private coaching, according to a Times of India report.

The Justice Rajan Committee had recommended that the state government pass the Bill and get it approved by the president, according to The Times of India.

Tamil Nadu’s opposition to NEET

NEET is prepared by the Central Board of Secondary Education and based on its own syllabus, which is different from the Tamil Nadu board’s academic curriculum. Tamil Nadu has been opposing the examination, arguing that a common entrance test would harm the prospects of state board students.

In September, three NEET aspirants had died by suicide in the state, leading to massive outrage. The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, has claimed that the people of Tamil Nadu want NEET, but the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam does not.