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NEET Impact Study- "TN Committee Doesn't Defy SC Or Challenge Union's Authority": Madras HC Dismisses BJP Leader's Plea

Sparsh Upadhyay
14 July 2021 4:38 AM GMT
NEET Impact Study- TN Committee Doesnt Defy SC Or Challenge Unions Authority: Madras HC Dismisses BJP Leaders Plea
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The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition challenging Tamil Nadu State Government's decision to set up a committee for the purpose of ascertaining whether the NEET based admission process has prejudicially affected socially backward students. The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed that as long as the State Government...

The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition challenging Tamil Nadu State Government's decision to set up a committee for the purpose of ascertaining whether the NEET based admission process has prejudicially affected socially backward students.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed that as long as the State Government does not do anything to upset the procedure for admission to medical institutions as established by law, it does not call for any interference.

Madras HC Seeks State's Response On BJP Leader's Plea Challenging TN Govt's Move To Assess NEET Impact On Socially Backward

The plea and the grievance of the petitioner

The plea had been filed by the General Secretary of the BJP, Tamil Nadu K. Nagarajan challenging the decision to constitute of a high-level committee consisting of 9 persons under the chairmanship of a retired High Court Judge, Justice Thiru. A. K. Rajan.

The prayer in the writ petition was squarely to quash the notification (constituting the committee) on the ground that it was "unconstitutional, illegal, unfair and without legal justification".

It was contended by the petitioner that since the Supreme Court has ruled that it is the Parliament that has the exclusive authority over the matter and an Act of Parliament governs the field of admission to medical colleges all over the country, therefore the perception of the State cannot alter the position.

Thus, the petitioner questions the very need to constitute a commission to undertake any study or other work since there may be no sequitur to the same.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted that the setting up of the commission does not amount to subverting any process of admission, far less an act of defiance to any order passed by the Supreme Court.

The Court also ruled that that the commission does not pose remotest challenge to the exclusive authority of the Union to enact a law and conduct a procedure in a field that is constitutionally designated to be undertaken only by the Union.

The Court further noted that the notification does not indicate the purpose for setting up the commission except that the findings of the commission may reveal that students studying in government schools in the State and hailing from the socially backward and economically weaker sections may be disadvantaged in taking the NEET examination.

Significantly, the Court ruled thus:

"The setting up of the commission can, by no stretch of imagination, be seen to be contrary to any Supreme Court order, whether in letter or spirit, or as a counter to any legislative action taken by the Union or process put in place. For all we know, the commission may come up with some material that the State Government may use to persuade the Union to search for an alternative or modify the process to make it more inclusive for students belonging to the socially backward and economically weaker sections to participate therein with a better chance of success."

The Court further highlighted that a section of citizens may feel that it is a waste to appoint a commission; that the costs incurred in maintaining such commission may be better used to provide relief to those who suffered in course of the pandemic, but the Court added, these are choices that an elected Government has to take and, indeed, in the constitutional scheme, has the freedom to take.

"Courts cannot rush in and interdict notifications or steps taken pertaining to policy or for garnering public opinion or the like", observed the Court.

Significantly, the Court opined that as long as the State Government does not do anything to upset the procedure for admission to medical institutions as established by law, it does not call for any interference.

Lastly, the Bench observed that it would have interfered if:-

  • The issuance of the notification was in any manner perceived to be an affront to the authority of the Supreme Court under Article 141 of the Constitution, or;
  • In derogation of the obligation of the State to aid the implementation of an order of the Supreme Court under Article 144 of the Constitution, or;
  • as an alternative to a national procedure for entrance examination conducted in accordance with a Parliamentary legislation in a field open only to the Parliament.

Case - K Nagarajan v. Union of India and ors

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