The reservation bill, which will enable 27 percentage of seats in central educational institutions to be kept aside for students of the Other Backward Classes, was on Thursday passed in the Lok Sabha.
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 Bharatiya Janata Party for including minority institutions in its purview was rejected.
The government promised to come up very soon with a bill providing for reservation in unaided educational institutions.
Replying to a daylong debate on the bill, Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh dismissed the opposition's fears that excluding the minority institutions will affect the admission of Scheduled Classes, Scheduled Tribes and the OBC students in such institutions that 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.
The bill has not excluded the creamy layer despite the parliamentary standing committee for HRD concluding that this segment should be covered only after giving priority to non-creamy among the backwards.
There had been division within the UPA with several Dravidian parties opposing the exclusion of 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.
Arjun Singh introduced the bill in Lok Sabha on August 25.
The bill provides for a mandatory increase of seats in Central educational institutions that would be attained over a maximum period of three years beginning with 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.
Singh said the measure will be implemented in a staggering manner as there were "practical difficulties" due to faculty and other factors like infrastructure.
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 less than the number of such seats available for the preceding academic session.
Singh said all institutions in the Northeast have been excluded from the measure as the region was predominantly tribal.
The minister did not see any merit in the argument of BJP members that the exclusion of minority institutions would hamper the entry of minority Dalits or OBCs in these institutions.
Earlier, BJP MP M A Kharabela Swain alleged that the measure was intended to ensure that institutions run by Hindus should ensure reservation to OBCS while it was not so for the minority institutions.
He contended that the minorities too should share the responsibility of bringing up deprived segments in these classes.
Telugu Desam Party MP K Yerrannaidu suggested setting up of a parliamentary committee of OBC members to ensure that the quota regime was properly implemented.