Chennai: The Centre on Tuesday (July 16) filed a counter affidavit in the Madras high court stating that two Bills sent by the Tamil Nadu government to the office of President seeking exemption from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) had in fact been returned to the state in 2017.

Deputy secretary in the ministry of home affairs filed the affidavit before a division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad.

According to the affidavit, "The Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill," and "The Tamil Nadu Admission to Post Graduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Bill,2017 " were placed for consideration of the President in the form of "summary signed by the Union Home minister on September 11, 2017."

The affidavit further said the President withheld his assent for the above Bills on September 18 and they were accordingly returned to the state government vide a letter dated September 22.

The matter relates to various petitions filed by the Tamil Nadu Students Parents Welfare seeking direction to the state government to complete the procedures for obtaining the Presidential assent for the bills passed in the state assembly on or before August 15, 2017.

Counsel for the Union government had said they received a communication from the ministry that the "Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill, 2017" and the "Tamil Nadu Admission to Post Graduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry" were received on February 20, 2017 and that these were withheld by the president on September 18, 2017.

When the plea came up last week, the home ministry informed the court that the Bills had been rejected. This was stated by the counsel when the division bench, sought a clarification on whether the Bills were withheld or rejected.

The court had then directed the home ministry to file an affidavit, setting out details of receipt of the bills, in particular the date of rejection, as submitted by counsel for the Centre.

DMK chief and leader of the opposition, MK Stalin, had earlier sought a resolution in the state Assembly condemning the Centre over rejection of the Bills while chief minister K Palaniswami said the next course of action would be decided after consulting legal experts.

Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have for long demanded exempting the state from NEET, especially after some students committed suicide allegedly over failure to clear the test.