Chennai: The state government has decided to appeal against the Supreme Court verdict on National Entrance Eligibility Test (NEET) for all medical admissions, which it says undermines its powers in tailoring medical admissions to suit the state’s needs. But if the Centre has its way, NEET, which insists on 100% merit-based admissions, will turn the private medical education sector – known for capitation fees – on its head.

NEET will let state universities retain the 69% quota and allow private colleges and deemed universities admit 15% of students under the NRI quota. But NEET will insist that all medical colleges admit students based on the merit list it releases, said MCI vice-president Dr C V Bhirmanandam. “No university or college can deny admission to a student who has a higher rank unless they are eliminated because of reservation or because he/she can’t afford fees in a private college,” he said.

The executive committee will discuss schedules and common syllabus at a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.

Tamil Nadu has been arguing that NEET discriminates against rural students as it would give a headstart to those who can attend coaching classes.

It also feels that the NEET encroaches upon the state subject of education. Admissions to medical colleges under the Tamil Nadu medical university are now based on Class 12 final examination marks, under the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Admission in Professional Courses Act, 2006.

The state will ask the apex court if the MCI regulations strengthened by its directive overrule the state act on these admissions. State officials said that their act could not be dismissed through a regulation.

“We will move the court asking if our act, which contradicts the MCI regulation, will be void. Our legal experts have told us that it will be unconstitutional to do so,” said a senior health department official.

The state, along with its neighbours Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, opposed common entrance examinations when MCI introduced them in 2013. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa – and many other political leaders – have been of the view that a common entrance would put students from rural areas at a disadvantage. In October 2015, Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing NEET. “It would adversely affect the interests of students in the state, in particular those from weaker sections and from rural areas … it infringes upon the state’s right to determine the admission policies to medical educational institutions,” she said.

On Wednesday, officials from the state health department said it would be too short a time for students in the state to prepare for a centralised examination. “Is it not unfair to ask a student who is completely unprepared for the entrance to compete with CBSE students who have been preparing for it for more than a year,” asked an official who did not want to be named.
Source: TOI-Che