July 16, 2021
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Good morning. To save herself from getting disqualified for violating the two-child rule, a Municipal Councilor from Maharashtra tried to disown her third child.
Next time your child doesn’t listen to you, you know what to do.
📰 FEATURE STORY
NEET committee not unconstitutional: Madras HC
Recently, the Madras High Court ruled that the formation of a committee to study the impact of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test – Undergraduate (NEET-UG) was not an ‘act of defiance’. Tamil Nadu government earlier formed a committee to study and submit a report on the impact of NEET-UG on medical admissions. However, BJP State Secretary Karu Nagarajan moved the Madras HC against the formation of the committee, citing that it was unconstitutional and arbitrary.
The NEET examination had always been in the eye of a storm in Tamil Nadu. The state board syllabus varied significantly with the CBSE syllabus that was used as a basis for NEET exams. TN students, especially those who could not afford to study in private coaching institutions, gave up on their dreams of becoming a doctor. Their failure/fear of failure had led to several deaths in the state.
Until the death of former CM Jayalalitha, NEET did not find a place in the state’s UG admissions. However, following her death, the BJP alliance with a weakened AIADMK paved the way for the entry of NEET in the state.
The newly formed government by the DMK had proposed to abolish NEET in its election manifesto. Following this, in June 2021, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin formed a committee headed by retired judge AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET and suggest recommendations. The committee had eight other members. However, BJP State secretary Karu Nagarajan noted that it was unconstitutional to go against the Supreme Court order and inspect the examination. He filed a petition against the same at the Madras HC.
NEET committee unconstitutional: Nagarajan
Karu Nagarajan filed a writ petition that requested to quash the formation of the committee on the legal grounds that it was ‘unconstitutional, illegal, unfair and without legal justification’.
In his petition, he claimed that this move of the government was the first of many towards the process of destabilizing the medical admission procedure in the state. The forming of the committee was the first step towards undermining the NEET exam system. Additionally, he suggested that the committee intended to subvert the SC order.
The final orders of the apex court on NEET clearly outlined that the matter could no longer be questioned. Further, the Court had also clarified that the sole right to set standards for higher education vested with the Union Government.
The National Medical Commission Act 2019 offered a medical education system that aided in improving access to affordable and quality education. Section 14 (1) of this Act stated that the uniform eligibility test for undergraduate medical education level should apply to all medical institutions governed under any law.
Notably, he cited the recent pronouncement of the SC indicating that the State had no power regarding admission to MBBS and BDS courses. He referred to a letter by SC that clarified that ‘the State of Tamil Nadu shall not make any distinction or discrimination between the exams conducted by various boards and admission shall be effected as per the result of NEET exam’. The Union government had also stated in a reply affidavit that the committee had no jurisdiction to go into the issue.
There were majorly three grounds on which the petition was filed. It noted that forming the committee was:
- challenging the executive powers of the Union to fix a standard higher education;
- affronting the SC by going against its order; and,
- derogating the duty to aid the SC orders of conducting the uniform national exam.
NEET committee not an act of defiance: Madras HC
Responding to the petition, the bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy declared that it was far from an act of defiance. The court observed that the setting up of the commission was neither subverting any admission process nor against the SC orders. It was also not challenging the executive authority/rights of the Union government to fix a standard of higher education.
In its explanation, the court stated that the findings of the commission might just reveal that taking up NEET would be a disadvantage for socially and economically backward students. It found the arguments on the above-mentioned grounds were stretched beyond imagination. This was because the findings would have no direct effect of disobeying the order to conduct NEET exams. It also would not lead to any new alternative exams that could be decided only by the Union.
The court noted that the findings could be used to strengthen the State’s argument and persuade the Union to find an alternative to NEET or modify it to make it more inclusive for economically weaker sections. It also explained that hearing the opinion of the people was indeed the first step in attempting a mature policy that would either raise the bar of education at the school level or lower the medical college admission level.
The court further elucidated that some citizens might feel setting up the commission was a waste of money that could have been directed to help the sufferers of the pandemic. However, the choices were vested with the elected government and asserted that it had the freedom to decide.
The court stated that it was within the authority of the state government to form the committee. It emphasised that as long as the state did not go against the medical admission procedure established by law, there was no need for interference. The bench also mentioned that it would have interfered only if the act in any manner offended the authority of SC.
Read the Madras HC judgment here.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
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🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Juvenile justice (Uttar Pradesh) – In today’s era of productivity, most people regret wasting their days of youth. But here is a group of thirteen juveniles who spent nearly 20 years in jail without getting bail. They say they were not aware of the juvenile delinquency laws and so had to waste their precious years in prison. FYI, the laws state that juveniles must have separate trials and even if jailed, it would be only for a maximum of three years. Alas, these convicts had to bear the brunt for not getting legal help.
Dutiful cause (Tamil Nadu) – Did you know that custom duties can be waived on life-saving drugs? If you did not, read Baby Mithraa’s story. The small girl hailing from Namakkal was recently diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Her parents were told that only the Zolgensma drug could save her life. It had to be administered to the baby before she turned two years old on July 5. Unfortunately, the drug is ranked as one of the most expensive ones with a cost of $2.125 million. But the parents were successful in collecting ₹16 crore through crowdfunding. As if there was a dearth of challenges, they found that the custom duties alone cost nearly 35% of the medicine’s cost. However, luck was in their favour as Chief Minister MK Stalin and Coimbatore MLA Vanathi Srinivasan wrote to the Union government and managed to help waive the GST and customs duty. Let’s hope for the baby’s welfare.
Tricky territory (Odisha) – Are you planning to build a house amidst the beauty of nature? Lovely decision. But be warned of the underlying difficulties. No, it’s not The Conjuring Ghost you need to be wary of, it’s the animals from Jumanji. News is that a black bear entered the Nuapada Collector’s residence, which is located in the Territorial Division of the Forest Department. Rangers claimed that the animal could not be shooed away, else it might attack ferociously. They said the only solution is to wait for the bear to move out on it’s own. Rangers have been deployed to safeguard the Collector. But you and I might not get such protection. Stay safe!
Gang of cheats (Assam) – These days there is no end to the growing number of rackets. Be it for organ transplant, sex or even religious conversion. But ever heard of sex reassignment racket? Yes, that’s a thing. Many men and women were caught in a racket that forcibly converted them into transgenders. They were fooled by a group of seven who promised to offer them jobs but took them to hospitals instead. The Guwahati police discovered that the racket was being handled by an agent in Uttar Pradesh. ‘How many more states are involved’ is left for us to wonder.
Danger ahead (Gujarat) – Red alerts, danger boards, caution banners. You must have seen all of these man-made signs. But have you seen a red mark on a monkey as a warning? The people of Ratan Pol in Ahmedabad have dyed the monkey red to keep an eye on the dangerous animal. It has reportedly attacked people and terrorised them. Even after residents went to such lengths to ward people off, the monkey bit a vendor who had to be hospitalized. Forest officials report that the monkey is injured and possibly hurt by a human which could be the reason for its violent attacks on humans. When will we stop hurting animals and let them be?
🔢 KEY NUMBER
$436 million – Your fancy for cars and cameras come together as Tesla and Samsung have joined hands in a $436 million deal. Tesla’s electric cars will now use Samsung’s camera modules as rear view mirrors. They are definitely bringing a new world of innovation and fascination.