The NEET-CUET Phenomenon: Assault on India’s Federal Character
Article 1 (1) of the Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
The wide-ranging and crucial implications of this vision of the Constitution were deliberated upon by Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar on 25th November 1949 in his historic speech while presenting the Constitution to the Constituent Assembly in the following words:
“As to the relation between the Centre and the States, it is necessary to bear in mind the fundamental principle on which it rests. The basic principle of Federalism is that the Legislative and Executive authority is partitioned between the Centre and the States not by any law to be made by the Centre but by the Constitution itself. This is what Constitution does. The States under our Constitution are in no way dependent upon the Centre for their legislative or executive authority. The Centre and the States are co-equal in this matter. . . This is the principle embodied in our constitution. There can be no mistake about it. It is, therefore, wrong to say that the States have been placed under the Centre. Centre cannot by its own will alter the boundary of that partition. Nor can the Judiciary.”
Given the above background, the Justice Dr. A. K. Rajan Committee made the following recommendations:
- “1. The State Government may undertake immediate steps to eliminate NEET from being used in admission to medical programmes at all levels by following the required legal and/or legislative procedures.
- Government may take a stand that the words „University education‟ found in Entry 25 List III is a ‘general’ provision and ‘Regulation of Universities’ in List II is a ‘special’ provision: Entry 32 is an exclusive State subject, that cannot be ignored. Therefore, Article 254 cannot be invoked to override Act 3/2007 insofar as it relates to entry 32. Hence the admission to affiliated colleges under the Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University are governed by Act 3 of 2007 and hence admission to those seats will be filled as per the provisions of that Act. (S.14 of NMC Act has no application to those seats). In this regard, the State may follow the required procedures to satisfy the legal and constitutional provisions.
- Alternatively, the State Government may pass an Act, similar to the Act 3/2007, indicating the need for elimination of NEET at all levels of Medical Education, and get the President’s assent for the same. This will ensure social justice and protect all vulnerable student communities from being discriminated in admission to medical education programmes.
- The HSc (Higher Secondary) scores shall become the sole admission criteria for admission to First Degree medical programmes, and that to ensure equality in opportunity to students from different Boards of Education, normalisation of scores may be followed.
- The socio, economic and other demographic ‘adversities’ that cause poor performance of all relevant students, mainly the disadvantaged and underprivileged, in their HSc examination shall be identified, and according to the degree of intensities of adversities, re-profiling of scores can be done using a pre-developed framework of ‘Adversity Score’.
- The school education, up to the level of HSc, shall be reformed such that ‘learning’ as opposed to ‘coaching’ is fostered, and that right from curriculum through teaching and learning to learning assessment (Board Examination), all shall be tweaked toward enabling and empowering students with subject knowledge and higher order skills including reasoning, decision making, social disposition and so on. Especially, the rote form of learning assessment that leads to coaching shall be eliminated and that the acquired knowledge and skills shall be focussed.
- So far as the ‘Deemed Universities’ is concerned, an Act has to be passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly to bring all the Deemed Universities of Tamil Nadu under its purview, as under Act 3/2007 and the President’s assent has to be obtained.”