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TN Assembly Re-Adopt The Anti NEET Bill

Context:

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has once again adopted a Bill that was earlier returned by Governor.

  • The Bill seeks to grant exemption from the mandatory National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) for seats allotted by the Government in undergraduate medical and dental courses in Tamil Nadu.
Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Education, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Centre-State Relations)

Dimensions of the article:
  1. The provisions of Permanent Exemption Bill for NEET in Tamil Nadu
  2. Governor’s function in passing a Bill
  3. What comes next in TN NEET bill?
  4. What happens when the President considers the Bill?


The provisions of Permanent Exemption Bill for NEET in Tamil Nadu

  • The Permanent Exemption Bill for NEET exempts medical aspirants in Tamil Nadu from taking NEET examination for admission to UG degree courses in Indian medicine, dentistry and homeopathy.
  • Instead, it seeks to provide admission to such courses on the basis of marks obtained in the qualifying examination, through “Normalisation methods”.
  • The aim of the Bill is to ensure “social justice, uphold equality and equal opportunity, protect all vulnerable student communities from being discriminated”, the government said.
  • The Bill seeks to bring vulnerable student communities to the “mainstream of medical and dental education and in turn ensure a robust public health care across the state, particularly the rural areas”.
  • The Bill opposes NEET because it “undermined the diverse societal representation in MBBS and higher medical studies, favouring mainly the affordable and affluent sections of the society and thwarting the dreams of underprivileged social groups”, it said.
  • NEET is not a fair or equitable method of admission since it favoured the rich and elite sections of society, the preamble of the Bill to override NEET said.
  • The preamble added that the high-level committee making a detailed study on NEET concluded that if it continued for a few more years, the health care system of Tamil Nadu would be severely affected and there may not be enough doctors for Primary Health Centres or state-run hospitals and that the rural and urban poor may not be able to pursue medical courses.
  • Admissions to medical courses are traceable to entry 25 of List III, Schedule VII of the Constitution and therefore the state legislature is competent to regulate the same, the Statement of Objects and Reasons (SoOAR) of the Bill.

What is NEET and Arguments Against NEET

  • The Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act states that there shall be a uniform entrance examination to all medical educational institutions at UG level and PG level through such designated authority.
  • Union government issued an Ordinance in 2016 postponing the introduction of NEET to 2017  due to the opposition from many quarters.
  • The Tamil Nadu state assembly says the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test is not a fair or equitable method of admission since it favoured the rich and elite sections of society who can afford coaching.
  • Some argue that NEET ‘undermined the diverse societal representation’ in MBBS and higher medical studies, favouring mainly the affluent class.
  • It is argued that the social groups most affected were the students of Tamil medium, having a rural background of government schools, those having a parental income of less than Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.
  • It was also said that if NEET continued, the health care system of the state would be severely affected and there may not be enough doctors for Primary Health Centres or state-run hospitals.

Governor’s Function in Passing a Bill

  • Under Article 200, the Governor may
    • grant assent
    • withhold assent
    • return for reconsideration by the Legislature or
    • reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.
  • There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions.
  • The Constitution makes it mandatory that the Governor should reserve for the President’s consideration if, in his opinion, a Bill that “so derogates from the powers of the High Court as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill”.
  • In other words, any Bill that seems to clip the wings of the High Court or undermine its functioning will not become law without the President’s assent.

What Comes Next in TN NEET bill?

  • There is no doubt that the Governor will now have to grant his assent to the Bill.
  • Under Article 200 of the Constitution, which deals with grant of assent to Bills passed by the Assembly, the first proviso enables the Governor to return a Bill, that is not a Money Bill, with a message requesting the House, or Houses, if there is an upper chamber, to reconsider the Bill, or any provisions, and also consider introducing amendments he may recommend.
  • The House will have to reconsider as suggested. If the Bill is passed again, with or without changes, and presented for assent, “the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom”.
  • In the present case, the Bill will have to be sent to the President for his assent, as it is enacted under an entry in the Concurrent List on a subject that is covered by a central law.
  • NEET is mandatory under Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council of India Act, an amendment introduced in 2016.
  • Therefore, the State law can be in force only if the President grants his assent. This will cure the ‘repugnancy’ between the central and State laws.

What happens when the President considers the Bill?

  • Article 201 says when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for his consideration, “the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom”.
  • He may also direct the Governor to return the Bill, if it is not a Money Bill, to the Legislature along with a message.
  • The House or Houses will have to reconsider the Bill within a period of six months from receiving it.
  • It may pass the Bill again with or without any change.
  • The Bill shall again be presented to the President for his consideration.
  • The Bill will become law if the assent is given, but nothing can be done if the Bill is denied assent by the President or if he makes no decision.

-Source: The Hindu

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