September 8, 2017
In the wake of large-scale anti-NEET agitations being held across Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed peaceful protests and directed the state government to ensure maintenance of law and order.
It directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that law and order problem does not arise because of the protests organised by various groups and political parties following the suicide of 17-year-old NEET challenger S Anitha.
A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also ordered the TN Chief Secretary to ensure that cases under appropriate sections are registered against those disturbing normal life.
“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 paralyse the law and order situation,”the bench observed.
It passed its interim order on a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate G S Mani of actor-turned TN politician Vijayakanth’s DMDK who prayed to restrain the political parties from resorting to any protest against NEET or the Supreme Court judgement that had approved it for admission to undergraduate medicine and dental courses in medical colleges across the country.
Mani also prayed for a direction to the TN government to improve the state syllabus of class XI and XII to the CBSE standard to help the students qualify for the medical entrance exam. “It shall be obligation of the state Chief Secretary to see that no law and problem takes place in relation to NEET that has been approved by the Constitution Bench,”said the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
Anitha scored 1176 out of 1200 marks in her class XII board examinations but was unable to join the MBBS course because of the implementation of NEET. Depressed over her inability to join the course she wished to, the medical aspirant, who fought odds to score a cut-off of 196.75 for medicine, ended her life in her home, which does not even have a toilet, at Kuzhumur in Ariyalur district on September 1. The young girl had impleaded herself in the case filed in the Supreme Court challenging NEET’s validity.
The petitioner alleged that Anitha committed suicide due to instigation by the leaders of political parties and also said the inaction of state and central governments led to her death. He also added that the fundamental rights of the TN state board students were affected by the “arbitrary” exercise of the state government as it had failed to raise the syllabus to the CBSE standard. Stating that NEET was upheld by the Constitution bench, Mani appealed to the top court to restrain political parties from “provoking”students and general public in holding protest, ‘dharna’ and ‘rail roko’ all over the state and also demanded a judicial inquiry into Anitha’s death.