The Union Law Ministry on Wednesday cleared an Ordinance of the Tamil Nadu government to exempt state students from taking the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for a year to secure admission to government colleges. A state government official told PTI the Ordinance would apply only to government colleges, and not private institutions.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Attorney General KK Venugopal cleared the draft Ordinance, which the state government had submitted on Monday. After the Union Home Ministry gives a ‘prior consent’, the Ordinance will be signed by the governor. It will be valid for six months, reported The Times of India.

The Tamil Nadu government had submitted the draft Ordinance a day after Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Centre was ready to exempt Tamil Nadu from the Neet for a year. She had emphasised that the Ordinance must specify that the exemption was sought to help rural students to get admission in government medical colleges. There are around 4,000 seats available in government medical colleges across the state.

The Neet controversy

Medical college admissions across India are done on the basis of Neet scores. However, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Tamil Nadu government has been opposing the examination. They have been asking for reservation to protect the interests of students from Tamil Nadu.

The state first resisted the introduction of Neet initially because it said the Central Board of Secondary Education-based exam would harm the admission prospects of students from the state board. Then, after the results of this year’s exam were declared on June 23, the state reserved 85% seats for these students and ordered a separate merit list. On July 14, the Madras High Court had struck this order down.

The central board’s students, who had challenged this in court, had argued that it is “discriminating [against] students solely on the basis of their school board”.

On July 22, Tamil Nadu Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had said that the test puts social justice in danger. Its Working President MK Stalin had said that Neet has ruined medical aspirants’ dreams.