Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has given his assent to the unanimously passed bill on 7.5 per cent quota in admission to medical colleges for state's government school students who qualify in the compulsory national entrance test, NEET.
The approval comes a day after the ruling AIADMK-led state government issued an executive order that bypassed the Governor to implement the bill's provisions ahead of the admission process, set to start soon.
The executive order was seen as a showdown between the AIADMK-led state government and the Governor - an appointee of the BJP-led central government. The two parties are allies in Tamil Nadu.
Though the Tamil Nadu assembly had passed the bill in September, Governor Purohit's last week's reply to Leader of Opposition MK Stalin state he would require three to four weeks to decide on the bill.
After approving the bill today, Mr Purohit issued a statement explaining he had received a favourable opinion from the Solicitor General that the bill "is in consonance with the constitution".
The newly enacted law clears the decks for around 300 NEET-qualified government school students - largely from marginalised and under-privileged families - to secure admission in medical colleges, private and state-run, from this academic year itself.
With elections due in seven months, quota for government school students had become a prestige battle for Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was being targeted by opposition parties for his inability to get the Governor's nod despite being an ally of the BJP.
The AIADMK-led state government had failed to get exemption from NEET. The state government had abolished medical entrance test in Tamil Nadu for nearly a decade and allowed admission to its medical colleges purely on the basis of class 12 marks.
Successive state governments have argued that poor students from government school and rural areas cannot afford private coaching, and thus NEET scuttles their dreams of becoming doctors.
At least 13 medical aspirants had died by suicide, including a few who had scored well in class 12, for not being able to qualify in the NEET.
Reacting to the development, senior AIADMK Minister D Jayakumar said, "Social justice must be protected at all times".
DMK Chief M K Stalin, who had recently led a protest to mount pressure on Mr Purohit, thanked the Governor today. "DMK's protest and appeals by Judges changed the Governor's stand."
His colleague claimed it as a victory for the party. "It's a victory for the DMK," parliamentarian P Wilson said today.
PMK Chief Ramadoss has however demanded constitutional amendment to make Governors respond to issues in a time-bound manner.
In 2018, the Tamil Nadu cabinet had recommended release of all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Governor is yet to decide on it.