“Admissions to medical education courses are traceable to entry 25 of List III, Schedule VII of the Constitution. Therefore, the state government is competent to regulate the same. So, I am moving this Bill,” chief minister M K Stalin said, evoking a loud thumping of desks in the treasury. Stalin introduced the bill in the Assembly.
The opposition AIADMK supported the move while the BJP opposed it. BJP members walked out of the assembly in protest.
A high-level committee led by Justice A K Rajan, set up by the DMK government in June, reported to the government that NEET had undermined the diverse societal representation in MBBS and higher medical education, favouring the affluent groups, while thwarting the dream of pursuing medical education by the underprivileged sections. Mostly affected were the students of government schools, those having parental income less than 2.5 lakh per annum and that of Most Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The committee said the NEET did not seem to ensure merit nor standard of the students being offered MBBS under its purview.
The Justice Rajan committee received views from 86,342 people both offline and online and submitted its report on July 14. “The committee has recommended that the state government shall pass an Act, like Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institutions Act, 2006 (Tamil Nadu Act 3 of 2007),” Stalin said.
Following the recommendations, the state government set up another committee of secretaries led by chief secretary V Irai Anbu on July 15. The committee of secretaries recommended the same route to nullify NEET.
The chief minister said that it was wrong to say that NEET improved the standard of medical examination. Tamil Nadu had one of the highest number of medical and dental institutions even before 2017. The standard of medical and dental professionals from these institutions was of high mettle. “Admission done based on the qualifying examination will no way lower the standard of education, since the higher secondary syllabus is of sufficient standard,” Stalin said. If the marks are adjusted through a normalisation method, it would provide a just, fair and equitable method of admission.
The government decided to enact a law to ensure social justice, uphold equality and equal opportunity, protect all vulnerable student communities, and ensure a robust public health care in the state, especially in the rural areas, Stalin said. He recalled the legal battle by the DMK government and all political parties resulted in the historic achievement of obtaining 27% reservation for OBC under All India Quota for medical courses.
“I urge the legislators of all political parties to extend full cooperation in the NEET issue and support to create history in social justice,” the chief minister said.