NEET in Tamil Nadu: Madras HC issues notice to state on plea seeking compensation for 'False Promises' Made By Govt
Chennai: The Madras High Court has issued notice to the state government on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking compensation over the 'promises' made by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Government regarding the cancellation of the NEET in the State.
The plea sought directions upon the State Government to pay Rs 1 crore to the families of students who had committed suicide fearing the results of NEET, and also pay Rs 5 lakhs to those students whose mental health suffered from such false promises. Besides, the petitioner has also prayed before the Court to direct the Government so that any further reckless and baseless statements regarding the cancellation of NEET are not made until the petition is dismissed.
While considering the plea, a High Court bench comprising of Justices M Duraiswamy and K Murali Shankar on Wednesday issued notice in the matter and directed the DMK party to respond to the PIL.
NEET was introduced in India as a centralized test for admitting medical students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. However, since its inception, Tamil Nadu has been protesting against the same as after the test was introduced more than a dozen students of underprivileged social background had committed suicide. These students belonging to remote areas were unable to access the necessary resources for clearing the entrance examination.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, the PIL referred to the promise made by CM Stalin and other members of the ruling party regarding the ban on NEET examination once DMK Government assumed power.
"It is submitted that the student community were given a clear assurance by the present Chief Minister and the members of the Ruling Party that the first signature of the newly formed Government after May 7th 2021 would be to scrap NEET Examination. However, in last week of June, 2021 and the first week of July, 2021, the Health Minister of the State Thiru.Ma Subramanian made shocking announcements in the Press that-"DMK's stance on scrapping NEET is final. There's no two ways about it. We are hell bent on scrapping it. However, right now, we do not have legal support for this and we are fighting in court to get it scrapped. However, students need to take their NEET lessons", the plea stated as per Live Law.
Expressing strong objection to the 'false promises' made by the DMK-led Government, the plea further mentioned, "It is high time that the present Government stop making false promises to innocent students, stop making any public announcements in the Legislative Assembly by the Government as well as the representatives of DMK with regard to scraping of NEET which stops creating false hopes among the medical aspirants till a conclusive and viable solution is arrived at finally."
The petitioner contended that such a promise made by the Government despite being aware of the fact that the validity of NEET was upheld by the Supreme Court. Referring to the announcement of the State Health Minister advising students to take NEET lessons as 'rude shock' for the student community, the plea further contended, "This announcement came as a rude shock to the entire student community and several students were very disturbed mentally and psychologically due to the sudden change of the stand of the Government. This in turn created extreme stress among the medical aspirants due to the false statements made by the present Government."
It has been submitted by the petitioner that these statements created wide confusion as well as legitimate expectations that the NEET exam wouldn't be conducted in Tamil Nadu in the present academic year and this motivated the students to get better marks in their +2 examinations. As a result, the students didn't prepare well for the test, the petitioner argued.
Further referring to the instances of suicide by several NEET candidates, the plea alleged, "NEET examination for the year 2021 was conducted on 12.09.2021 and owing to the false promises made by the present Government which led to many confusions among students which resulted in enormous stress faced by the medical aspirants in Tamil Nadu and 3 students took an extreme step by taking their own lives for which the present Government and the members of DMK party are solely responsible."
The petitioner has placed reliance on the recent Delhi High Court judgment in Najma v. Government of NCT, Delhi, where the High Court had clarified that promises made by the Chief Minister to the public is enforceable as it creates a legitimate expectations in the minds of the public.
At this outset the plea further contended, "It is the bounden duty of these high ranking functionaries or Ministers, MP's and MLAs to make realistic and truthful promises and not make fallacious and impossible promises that too at the cost of affecting young children who are yet to understand the implications."
Accordingly, the plea sought the following reliefs-
(1) Direction upon DMK-led State Government to compensate for the deaths of NEET aspirants by paying their families an amount of Rs 1 crore, and compensate for affecting the mental health of students by paying them Rs 5 lakhs as the students had to undergo stress, depression because of all this.
(2) Direction upon the State Government to restrain from making any such reckless and baseless statements regarding the cancellation of NEET or anticipated cancellation for gaining political mileage till the petition is disposed of.
The counsel for the petitioner, Advocate Naveen Kumar Murthi, submitted before the Court on Wednesday how several NEET candidates committed suicide recently because of the irresponsible conduct of the ruling DMK led Government.
After listening to the contentions and considering the plea, the High Court bench issued notice in the matter and directed the DMK to respond to the same.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that back in June the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had formed a committee headed by retired justice AK Rajan for studying the impact of NEET and other coaching centers on the students and submit its recommendations within a month.
After detailed investigations, the findings of the Committee proved that NEET is biased, not based on common core standards, does not measure the chronologically developed academic abilities by the students, could not predict the success of students in their higher studies (MBBS), promotes coaching as opposed to learning, and is vulnerable to charges of cultural, regional, linguistic and socio-economic biases.
In fact, the Tamil Nadu assembly also passed a bill to exempt the state from NEET, the centralized common entrance examination for MBBS/BDS courses. All the parties including the main opposition AIADMK and its ally PMK, besides others like Congress, supported the bill, which seeks to provide for admission to UG courses in medicine, dentistry, Indian medicine and homeopathy on the basis of marks obtained in the qualifying examination, (Class XII).