NEW DELHI: Protests against the national entrance exam for medical colleges have been temporarily banned in Tamil Nadu by the Supreme Court today. The court has told the state’s top bureaucrats that it was their job to ensure that there were no agitations against the exam.
The direction came on a petition that complained about widespread protests after the suicide by Anitha, a 17-year-old student, which had affected normal life of citizens. The court told the Tamil Nadu government to respond to this demand before September 18 when it will hear the case.
“As an interim measure,” a two-judge bench of the top court ruled, it was the “obligation” of the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary “to ensure that no agitation takes place in relation to the NEET examination that has been upheld by this court”.
Anitha’s death had sparked huge public anger and protests, many of them by students. She was the daughter of a poor, Dalit daily-wage labourer, whose dream was to be a doctor. She scored excellent marks in her Class 12 exams and would have easily got into a medical college of her choice under the previous system. But she could not clear the national eligibility exam.
Tamil Nadu, which has close to 40 medical colleges, says the entrance exam places its students at a disadvantage. It is argued that national exam is more apt for students who study in CBSE and penalises poor and rural students who cannot afford the private tuition classes needed to score high in such entrance exams like NEET and JEE, which is used for engineering students.
Days before Anitha died, the Tamil Nadu government had proposed an executive order to exempt Tamil Nadu from the central admission test but the central government did not approve of it. The Palaniswami government of the AIADMK in the state and the BJP government at the Centre have been the target of sharp attacks from the opposition that accuse the ruling party of letting down the state’s students.