After the suicide of 17-year-old National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) aspirant, Anitha, Tamil Nadu has been surrounded by protesting students demanding that NEET-based medical admissions should not be followed in the state.
Students of SRM University, Chennai and Valliammai Engineering College in Potheri near Chennai, formed a human chain urging the government to abolish NEET as the best tribute to Anitha.
Considering the disruption of law and order in the state, the Supreme Court today, September 8, banned protests and agitations against NEET that may create any law and order situation in Tamil Nadu.
A Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that NEET was upheld as the sole basis for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses and any public protests, road blocks and breakdown of normal public life against it would amount to contempt of court.
“As an interim measure, it is directed that it shall be the obligation of the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, respondent No.1 and the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Home, Government of Tamil Nadu, respondent No.2, to ensure that law and order is maintained throughout the State in the wake of the present situation in respect of the NEET examination. The Chief Secretary shall see to it that anyone involved in any kind of ‘bandh’ or activity that disrupts the normal life and detrimentally affects law and order in the State of Tamil Nadu, shall be booked under the appropriate law,” observed the court.
A notice was issued where the court directed that it would fall upon the state government to ensure that no violence occurs in the name of NEET in the future. It added that any political party instigating violence in this regard will be booked under the law and proceeded accordingly.
The state advocate general has been ordered by the SC to appear before the court on September 18 and explain the apparent failure to maintain law and order after the suicide of Anitha who had approached the apex court against NEET-based admissions in the state.
The court’s decision was based on a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate GS Mani who sought a judicial probe into Anitha’s death. The petition said that state authorities should come to the aid of state board students by upgrading the syllabus to make it on par with the CBSE. This would help the State Board students to compete in NEET with their CBSE counterparts on equal terms.
Earlier, the TN government had condemned NEET on grounds that the all-India medical examination was disadvantageous to rural students and the ones from poor backgrounds.
It should be noted here that the SC has banned only the protests that disrupt law.
“We may clearly state here that a peaceful protest or criticism or dissent is different than creation of a law and order situation. Every citizen of this country has a fundamental right to peacefully protest and demonstrate , but not to cause a situation that results in violence and paralyzes the law and order situation,” it added.
The entire judgement can be read here.