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Centre’s rejection of NEET bill puts TN Govt in a fix
Tamil Nadu

Centre’s rejection of NEET bill puts TN Govt in a fix

S Murari

The rejection of two bills forwarded to the Centre by Tamil Nadu for exempting the State from the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical and dental courses.

Law Minister C V Shanmugham , responding to the Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin to resend the bill to the President for fresh consideration, said the Centre had not assigned reason for withholding consent. When Stalin raised the issue last week, the quoting from a written communication from the Home Ministry to the Government that the President had returned the two bills in 2017, Shanmugham quibbled that the Centre had only withheld consent and had not outrightly rejected the bills.

Stalin pointed out that the bill, forwarded to the Centre on Feb 4, 2017 on the basis of a unanimous resolution adopted by the Assembly, was returned by the Centre on Sept 18 itself.  He said the Government could have resent the bills within six months of the Central response.  Denying that the House and the people were kept in the dark, Health Minister C R Vijayabhaskar said he himself had stated in May 2018 that the consent had been withheld.

The issue came up again in the Assembly on Wednesday. And Stalin demanded that even now the State could resend the bill to the President for fresh consideration . Responding to this, Shanmugham said the Centre had not assigned any reason for refusing consent for the bill. It had only told the Madras High Court that the Centre has rejected the bill.

After the bill was returned, the Government sent as many 12 reminders to know why, but there was no response from the Centre . When a PIL filed by educator Prince Gajendrakumar came up for hearing before a division bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday, Central Government counsel said the Centre returned the bill first in September 2017, itself that is within seven months.

He also said that when the State Government sought clarifications, the Centre informed it that consent had been denied for the two bills. Even if the Government does not know why the Centre has rejected the bills, it is easy to find which clauses run counter to the Supreme Court ruling upholding NEET. Shanmugham had said if the objections were known, the Government remove offending clause and try and get the consent.

Neither the ruling party not the opposition, both of which had joined hands to unanimously pass the bills, has informed the people whether they have made out a case for exemption for Tamil Nadu alone when the rest of the country has fallen in line..