THE LOK Sabha on Thursday unanimously passed the bill to provide reservations to students from Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in centrally aided higher education institutions.
HRD Minister Arjun Singh announced that a similar bill would soon be brought to extend the same provisions to unaided private institutions.
The bill has not excluded the ‘creamy layer’ of OBCs from among the beneficiaries, despite the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for HRD. The committee had suggested that ‘creamy’ students should be enrolled only if there were reserved seats left over after giving priority to the genuinely poor among OBCs.
The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill, 2006, provides for 27 per cent reservation for OBCs, 15 per cent for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs.
Cutting across party lines, members of the House welcomed the bill. Some members demanded quotas for Muslims too. The provisions of the bill will not extend to minority educational institutions.
The HRD minister did not agree with the demand that the measure should be implemented in one go. Due to practical difficulties, its implementation would be staggered over three years, he said. The provisions of the bill will come into effect from academic year 2007.
Singh said all institutions in the Northeast have been exempted as the region was predominantly tribal. Eight institutions of excellence have also been kept out of its ambit.