The Madras high court on Monday struck down a recent Tamil Nadu government legislation abolishing Common Entrance Test for admissions to professional courses for students who cleared board exams in the state.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Prabha Sridevan held that the state government had no powers to enact the legislation abolishing CET for state board students and that the act was void and unenforceable.
Allowing a batch of petitions from students challenging the act, the chief justice, who dictated the order on behalf of the bench, held the act had no nexus to the objects to be achieved by the recent 93rd constitutional amendment.
The bench observed that under the recent amendment, Article 15 (5) of the Constitution empowered the state governments to bring out laws for the benefit of socially and educationally weaker sections.
Holding that the state legislature was not competent to bring out the act, the bench said it also violated the principle of equality enshrined under Art 14 of the Constitution. The impugned legislation, the bench said, was against the regulations of the Medical Council of India and All-India Council for Technical Education regulations.
"It is difficult to accept the state government stand that if the CET was abolished, it would help rural students," the bench said.
The court directed the state to commence the process for holding the CET in accordance with the MCI and AICTE regulations for the academic year 2006-07 for students of all eudcational boards.
The bench had on February 24 reserved orders for Monday after hearing arguments by petitioners' counsel and advocates representing the state government, including Supreme Court lawyer Mukul Rohtagi and State Advocate General N R Chandran.
The impugned Tamil Nadu Regulation of Admission to Professional Courses Act, 2006, was passed by the Assembly on Jaunary 27.
The petitioners contended that the act violated the fundamental rights of equality as guaranteed under the Constitution by proposing different examinations and valuations for different boards for admissions to the same professional courses.
Under the act, students of state board curriculum are exempted from taking entrance examinations for admission to professional courses in the state while making it mandatory for the students from other boards.
The state government had abolished the common entrance test in 2005 through an executive order, but it was struck down by the high court.