The OBC quota bill for Centrally-aided educational institutions was on Thursday approved by the Lok Sabha with the government promising to come up "very soon" with a bill providing for reservation in unaided educational institutions.
The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill, 2006, which provides for 27 per cent reservation to OBCs, was passed by a voice vote after amendments moved by the BJP for including minority institutions in its purview was rejected.
Replying to a day-long debate on the bill, HRD Minister Arjun Singh dismissed opposition fears that excluding minority institutions would affect admission of SC, ST and OBC students in such institutions which have been enrolling them for several years.
The minister said the government was preparing a new bill for unaided institutions and "very soon it will come to the House".
The debate saw the members generally hailing the measure with some describing it as "revolutionary". There were also demands for reservation in private sector and the judiciary.
There had been division within the UPA with several Dravidian parties opposing exclusion of the creamy layer, a demand made by the Left parties.
The government has already announced that the quota regime would be made operational from the academic year 2007. The bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by Singh on August 25 this year.
The bill provides for a mandatory increase of seats in Central educational institutions which would be attained over a maximum period of three years beginning with the 2007 academic session.
The bill, applicable to Central Universities, IITs and IIMs and certain other institutions established, maintained or aided by the Central government, defines OBCs as the class or classes of citizens who are socially and educationally backward and are so determined by the Central government.
At the same time, he said, if any institution can implement it in one go, they can do so.
The minister assured all assistance to these institutions to make the quota regime a reality.
The bill envisages 27 per cent seat reservation for OBCs in admission in Central educational institutions besides 15 per cent for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs.
As many as eight institutions of excellence, including Homi Bhabha National Institute and its constituent units like Bhabha Atomic Research Centre as also Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, are excluded from the quota regime.
The other institutions that are excluded from the quota purview are North-Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Shillong, National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Gurgaon, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Space Physics Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram and Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun.
The provisions of the bill will not apply to minority educational institutions.
In a move to ensure that the general category of seats are not reduced, the bill has made it clear that the increase of seats in any branch of study or faculty was not to be less than the number of such seats available for the preceding academic session.