The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination, or NEET, Live Law reported.
NEET is a requisite for admission to undergraduate medical courses in India.
The Tamil Nadu government has argued that the exam violates the principle of federalism as it takes away the power of states to admit students to medical colleges.
“Education is a subject that is within the competence of the state to make laws on, and the states have the right to control education for state universities,” the plea said, according to The Hindu. “The introduction of NEET for admission to all medical colleges, irrespective of whether they are private or state government or Central government colleges, is in violation of the federal structure and the autonomy of the states to make decisions regarding education.”
The plea has been filed under Article 131 of the Constitution which empowers the Supreme Court to hear disputes between the Centre and one or more states.
The question paper of NEET is based on the Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus, which is different from the Tamil Nadu state board’s academic curriculum.
Tamil Nadu has been opposing the examination on the grounds that a common entrance test harms the prospects of state board students.
In September 2021, the Tamil Nadu government had passed a Bill seeking to exempt its students from NEET. It had proposed that admission of students to medical courses be carried out based on Class 12 examination results.
However, it was returned for reconsideration by Governor RN Ravi, contending that it was against the interest of students from rural areas and those who are economically weaker.
The Bill was passed again by the state government on February 8, 2022. It was then forwarded to the president. However, President Droupadi Murmu is yet to give her assent to the proposed law.
In Saturday’s plea, the Tamil Nadu government also challenged the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2020 Christian Medical College, Vellore, versus Union of India case, which had upheld the validity of NEET, according to Live Law.
The state government said that NEET was upheld on the ground that it was required to curb the evil of unfair practices such as granting admission based on paying capacity of candidates, charging capitation fees, large-scale malpractices, exploitation of students, profiteering, and commercialisation.
It, however, argued that the reasons were not applicable to government colleges, and therefore the judgement was not binding on the state government.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 declared the NEET unconstitutional, according to Bar and Bench. The judgement was reversed in 2016.