M A I N   N E W S

Nod to relaxation in OBC quota norms
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Within two years of the Supreme Court mandating 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in all central educational institutes (CEIs), the Union Cabinet today approved major relaxations to the quota policy by clearing related amendments to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006. The amended Bill will be introduced in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

Bill in next session of ParliamentInstitutes that have exhausted 50 pc quota limit for SCs/STs needn’t reserve 27 pc for OBCsImplementation period to be six years, instead of threeSpecial concessions for Northeast

As per changes, the CEIs that have exhausted the 50 per cent quota ceiling (fixed by the apex court) on SC and ST students need not make 27 per cent reservation for OBCs. One of the direct beneficiaries of the said amendment will be Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, which has been reserving 50 per cent seats for SCs and STs.

The related amendment states, “If seats reserved for SCs or STs or both taken together in a CEI exceed 50 per cent of the annual permitted strength, that CEI will be exempt from making any reservation for OBCs”. Significant concessions have been made for the Northeast, where even the quota ceiling of 50 per cent appears to have been relaxed unlike in other states. “For a CEI in Northeast, including Sikkim, but excluding non-tribal areas of Assam, the percentage of seats reserved for SCs or STs will not be reduced from the level existing on the date immediately preceding the date of the commencement of the Act. In case of CEIs in other areas, percentage of seats reserved for SCs or STs will stand reduced to 50,” the Union Cabinet said.

In another change, CEIs, which have less than 50 per cent seats reserved for SCs/STs or their cumulative, have been allowed to restrict the OBC seat percentage to the shortfall. Institutions have also been permitted now to implement OBC quota over six years instead of the original three, from academic session 2008-2009. The said amendments will be made to Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the CEI Act, 2006.

At present, all CEIs (except those in tribal areas mentioned in the Sixth Schedule of Constitution) must reserve 27 per cent seats for OBCs, excluding the creamy layer, in addition to 15 per cent for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs, besides expanding their capacity over a maximum period of three years from 2008-09.

However, several states already provide for reservation of higher percentage than 15 per cent for SCs or 7.5 per cent for STs. Some CEIs which were state universities earlier have adopted the norms followed by the respective state governments that require them to reserve more than 7.5 per cent of seats for STs.

Justifying the changes, HRD Ministry said, “Difficulties experienced by some CEIs, particularly those in Northeast inhabited significantly and sometimes predominantly by tribal population and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, which has been reserving 50 per cent seats for SCs and STs in keeping with the objectives specified in their respective Acts, have led to the amendments.”

The ministry added the amendments aim at safeguarding the interests of tribal population and providing a balance between the local policy at the state level and the national policy on reservation. “The amendments will ensure equity and inclusiveness and meet regional aspirations,” the ministry said.

That apart, Cabinet’s approval will largely benefit southern states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where SC/ST reservation exceeds the 50 per cent ceiling. To that extent, it has clear political overtones.




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