The Constitution of India is the ‘Code of Governance’ of the country. As per the Constitution, the country is neither unitary nor federal in complete form as the United States of America. It has to be construed as quasi federal; in the real meaning it is more towards the federal set up of the governance. In support of this, it may be pointed out that the country is not mentioned as a single state. Article 1(1) says ‘India… shall be a Union of States…….’ which signifies the various political administrative entities viz. States, duly ruled by the elected representative of the people. Again, India is a country of Union of States. The States are the direct governing machineries facing the people who have elected them for being ruled. In that way the State Governance is the real democratic polity with more responsibility to discharge to its subjects and the Union Government at the Centre is only the ‘legal fiction’ which possesses a minimal governing responsibility in comparison with the States.
As per the Article 12, the State includes the Government and the Legislature of each of the States. It has the sovereign power to make rules and regulations having the force of law.
The Governance of the country is vested with the power to rule with a Union List, a State List and a Concurrent List. The third category has to be exercised by the concurrence of either the Centre or the respective State. ‘Education’ was under State List when the Indian Constitution came into force in 1950. During the emergency period in 1976, the subject ‘Education’ was moved to the Union List by the then ruler at the Centre in an arbitrary manner without any debate and discussion at the Parliament. The exercise was carried out, when the democratic rights were under peril during the emergency. From then onwards whoever came to the power at the Centre have been twisting the subject, ‘Education’, and belittling the role of the State as mere spectator, thereby making the democratic polity a laughing stock.
Recently the pace of twisting the subject of ‘Education’ has been exercised by the Centre in an alarming fashion, detrimental to the citizens of various States. The constitutional governing responsibility of the State of Tamil Nadu has been brushed aside and its role has been undermined.
The Centre introduced NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) for the admission in the medical college ostentatiously as a means of bringing ‘uniformity’. For a polity of ‘Union of States’, only ‘unity’ by respecting the powers of the States has to be the proof and not ‘uniformity’. For the exemption from NEET for medical college admission coming under the purview of State Governance in Tamil Nadu, two Bills were passed by the State Legislature unanimously well ahead of the schedule of commencing the admission process. The Bills were sent to the Union Government for due approval. The State of Tamil Nadu has exercised its constitutional power and the Union Government has neither approved nor decided over the two Bills.
The judicial oligarchy has also decided in favour of the stand of the Centre, which denigrates the State power. At various levels of higher judiciary, the veracity of NEET has been questioned by the judges on the framing of different patterns of questions in various languages for a uniform test and by seeking for a formula to balance the aggrieved lot and the advantageous lot of the students who appeared for the NEET 2017. But finally the verdict was given abruptly in favour of the advantageous lot, ignoring the stand of the State Government of Tamil Nadu. The facilitation for the exemption from NEET as per the need of the State is available as one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the Parliament (Report 92 – The Functioning of Medical Council of India), formed on the subject. In 2007, the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India held in favour of the Special Act, passed by the Tamil Nadu State to abolish Entrance Tests for all the professional college admissions under the purview of the State.
Despite all these advantageous provisions and precedence both at Legislature and through the verdict of apex judiciary, the policy decision of the Tamil Nadu State Government is ignored. The last hour initiative, taken by the Centre to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET for one year was not dealt with responsibly. The dreams of thousands of students who have secured higher marks in +2 exams at the State Board Syllabus have been smashed because of the reckoning of marks of NEET, conducted in the Syllabus of Central Board of Secondary Education.
Any endeavour belittling the provisions of the Constitution has to be fought against. Instead, how can the Centre itself denigrate the Constitution, depriving the rights of the States to the level of local bodies when even the decision of such local bodies and sovereignty has to be respected?