Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin urges President Murmu to give assent to the state’s Anti-NEET Bill

The TN Admission to Under Graduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021, passed in the state Assembly, was returned by Governor RN Ravi.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 27, 2023 | 2:49 PMUpdatedOct 27, 2023 | 5:04 PM

Stalin President

More than two years after the Anti-NEET Bill was passed by the state Assembly, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin urged President Droupadi Murmu, on Friday, 27 October, to give her assent to the long-pending legislation.

The President is in Chennai to participate in the convocation of the Indian Maritime University. Chief Minister Stalin handed over a letter to Murmu at the airport in this connection, an official release said.

Journey of the Anti-NEET Bill

The Tamil Nadu Admission to Under Graduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021, originally passed in September that year by the state Assembly, was returned by Governor RN Ravi later.

It was reintroduced and adopted by the Assembly in February 2022 and sent again to the Governor for “reserving” the same to Presidential assent, Stalin said in the letter to Murmu. The Governor has now forwarded it to the Union Home Ministry.

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is an all-India pre-medical entrance test for students who wish to pursue undergraduate medical courses in government and private institutions in India.

Related: Anti-NEET slogans raised as petrol bomb is hurled at Raj Bhavan in Chennai

‘All clarifications have been provided’

“All the clarifications sought on the Bill by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, based on the comments of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Higher Education, MoE, and Ministry of Ayush have been provided expeditiously,” Stalin said, in his communication to the President.

“Since there had been no progress after our replies, in my letter dated 14 August, 2023, I had highlighted the various adverse impacts due to this delay like the lost opportunities for the underprivileged students and many student suicides and had urged you to grant the assent without any further delay,” he added.

The latest queries from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have also been replied to.

“But unfortunately, the assent to our Bill has not been provided till now. In this scenario, I once again wish to reiterate that the inordinate delay in granting assent to our Bill has deprived medical admissions for many deserving students who could not afford costly coaching facilities and has effectively stalled the intent of the broad legislative, political and social consensus in Tamil Nadu,” said Stalin.

“I, therefore, solicit your kind and immediate intervention in this sensitive issue and urge you to accord the assent to the above Bill at the earliest,” he added.

Related: TN intensifies anti-NEET push as hunger strike follows legislation

‘DMK would not stop’

In August, Stalin had said that the DMK would not stop till Tamil Nadu got an exemption from the Central qualifying test, reaffirming his anti-NEET stand. The remarks came at a wedding that coincided with his party’s agitation seeking to do away with NEET, the all-India test for students to get into medical courses in institutions across the country.

Stalin also took a swipe at Governor Ravi for his recent remarks that he would never sign in favour of the state’s Anti-NEET Bill.

The Chief Minister said that the matter was now with the President and that the Governor’s job was only that of a “postman”, who has to send to the Rashtrapati Bhavan matters taken up by the state Assembly.

The earlier Bill, adopted by the Assembly during the AIADMK regime, was returned and the then ruling party did not reveal it, even when the Assembly was on, said the chief minister.

That bill subsequently lapsed, Stalin said, adding his party promised ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections to wholeheartedly strive for a ban on NEET.

Related: Governor has nothing to do with the anti-NEET bill, says TN health minister

The Bill

The Bill seeking exemption for Tamil Nadu was adopted twice after the DMK came to power and was “finally sent for Presidential assent after much struggle”.

Stalin alleged that Ravi kept the Bill at the Raj Bhavan and sent it to the President only after the government strongly pressed for it.

“The President should decide on the Bill on the basis of Centre’s advice. Only the President has the power, not the Governor; he only has the job of a postman. He has to send what we sent,” he said, referring to Ravi’s recent remarks at an interaction that he would never give assent to the state’s Anti-NEET Bill.

Tamil Nadu, has over the years, only become more resolute in its anti-NEET stand, with the suicide of each NEET aspirant only cementing it.

One of the main reasons, which many politicians also subscribe to, is the idea that NEET was skewed in favour of urban and wealthier students.

There has also been the prevailing view in Tamil Nadu since NEET was made mandatory across the country in 2017 that it was disadvantageous for students of the state board.

In fact, the Justice AK Rajan Committee, in its report submitted to MK Stalin in September 2021, even said that NEET tilted the balance in favour of students of Central Board of Secondary Education schools, those who attended coaching services, and study in privately-run English-medium schools.

(With PTI inputs)