TN objects to common entrance exam for Medical admissions

J Jayalalithaa
The Tamil Nadu Government has said that it is raising objections against the Common Entrance Examination for Medical admissions, and has asked the Centre to withdraw the review petition filed by the previous UPA government. The  petition is pending in the Supreme Court and is coming up for hearing in the next one week.

This is the second time the state is raising its objection. Last month Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to the Prime Minister, conveying the state's strong objection to the Centre's attempts to review the judgement of the Supreme Court against the introduction of a National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) in any name or manner. She claimed this would adversely affect the interests of students in the state, particular those from the weaker sections and rural areas. She said  NEET infringes upon the state's right to determine the admission policies to medical educational institutions in Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalithaa noted that the state had taken a number of steps starting from 2005 towards systematising the admission process to medical colleges. Later, after due consideration, it even abolished entrance examinations for professional undergraduate courses in the state, by enacting the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institutions Act, 2006. The Act was finally brought into force after receiving the assent of the President under Article 254(2) of the Constitution.

"This measure was taken keeping in view the interests of students, particularly from the weaker sections and rural areas to ensure that a level playing field is created. Under these circumstances, it would be a direct infringement on the rights of the State if the Government of India introduces the NEET in any manner," said Jayalalithaa.

"Despite our strong and sustained objections, it is unfortunate that the then UPA Government had filed a review petition which has not been withdrawn by the present government. It is also reliably learnt that based on a proposal from the Medical Council of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also circulated a draft cabinet note to the other Ministries in the Government of India with a proposal to amend the Medical Council Act, 1956, to enable the Government of India to introduce a Common Entrance Examination for the Medical institutions throughout the country," she noted.

Already 15 percent of MBBS seats and 50 per cent of postgraduate seats in the State Government Medical and Dental colleges are surrendered to the Central pool for which admissions are based on a Common Entrance Examination.

In this context, introducing a Common Entrance Examination to cover the State's quota would be a direct infringement of the rights of the State.

"This would cause grave injustice to the students of Tamil Nadu who have already been covered by a fair and transparent admission policy laid down by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which has been working well".

The rural students would be put to great disadvantage because they lack the resources to enroll in training institutions and access materials available to urban students. Consequently, a large number of socially and economically backward meritorious rural students have benefited by the decision to abolish the Common Entrance Examination.

For the Postgraduate courses, the Government of Tamil Nadu gives preference to those who have served in rural areas, giving special weightage to those working in hilly and tribal areas. The State Government has also successfully obtained and enforced bonds from those completing Postgraduate education in Government Medical Colleges to serve the State Government for a minimum period, which has helped us to meet the need for specialist medical manpower in Government Hospitals.

"The introduction of NEET or any Common Entrance Examination would nullify the implementation of these policy initiatives and socio-economic objectives of the State, since we would have to fall in line with the regulations of the National Test, which will not have such enabling provisions. The National Test would be out of tune with the prevailing socio-economic milieu and administrative requirements of Tamil Nadu," said Jayalalithaa.

She asked the Prime Minister to instruct the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to withdraw the Review Petition filed by the previous UPA Government which is pending in the Supreme Court and is coming up for hearing on March 15, 2016.

She also request the Prime Minister not to pursue any Legislative measures to circumvent the Supreme Court orders of 2013 upholding Tamil Nadu's stand on this issue.

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