The Tamil Nadu Assembly recently re-adopted the anti-NEET bill, making it the first time the state has re-adopted a bill returned by the governor without making amendments.

As per the Constitution and rules, the governor cannot return it a second time and will have to send it to the President for his assent.

On February 8, in a special sitting at St George's Fort, the TN assembly reintroduced the The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021 (popularly known as the anit-NEET bill) which seeks to permanently dispense with the National Eligibility Entrance Test for TN students seeking admission in the UG degree courses in Indian medicine, dentistry and homeopathy. Instead, the bill provides that medical aspirants for these courses be admitted based on the class XII scores.

The bill was first introduced in September 2021 after a nine-member committee headed by retired High Court judge A Rajan submitted a 165-page report stating how NEET would impact medical aspirants from rural areas.

The report claimed that NEET in its current form was discriminatory to medical aspirants from rural areas and Tamil medium students. It said that NEET, being the sole criterion for medical admissions, worked to the advantage of wealthier students from urban areas. It implied that NEET took away the effectiveness of a formal school education system and favoured those who could afford private coaching.

Noting that there has been a decline in the enrollment of rural students to medical institutions following the implementation of NEET, the report said it could lead to a shortage of doctors in rural areas and affect the healthcare system of Tamil Nadu badly.

It further said that the examination could take healthcare back to the pre-independence era as it found that 70 per cent of PG graduates chose to work with private corporate hospitals, and this was not the case pre-NEET.

The bill was first introduced in September last year against the backdrop of three suicides in connection with NEET within a span of a week in September 2021. In 2020, at least 14 suicides were officially reported in connection with NEET.

Abolition of NEET was a poll promise of the ruling DMK, but now almost all other parties including the opposition AIADMK are in favour of the bill. The sole exception is the BJP.

Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin accused Governor RN Ravi of not performing his constitutional duties by sitting on the bill for too long, almost five months, instead of sending it to the President immediately for assent. The governor had returned the bill on February 3, stating that the legislation was against the interests of the students, especially the rural and economically poor students of the state. With the reintroduction of the bill, the governor will now have to send it to the President for assent.

The face-off between the government and the governor has prompted Stalin's West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, who also found herself in a similar row recently with the State's governor, to call for a meeting of Opposition Chief Ministers to discuss the 'constitutional overstepping and brazen misuse of power' by the governors of non-BJP ruled states.