SC okays 27% quota for OBCs; UPA sees poll prospects

Supreme Court's clearance of the constitutional amendment for okaying 27 % quota for OBCs in educational institutions has the Congress thinking of electoral gains.

13 April, 2008

The Supreme Court of India's decision to uphold the Constitutional amendment providing for 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes in IITs, IIMs and other Central educational institutions is expected to give an election boost for the ruling United Progresive Alliance UPA.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, on April 10, 2008, cleared the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 providing for the quota. However, the Bench excluded the creamy layer among the Other Backward Communities (OBC) from the quota benefit.

Political observers feel this could increase the electoral chances of Congress in the coming Assembly elections and the 2008 General Elections. The Congress has already termed the verdict as historic and claimed that it is a recognition of the stand taken by the party for upholding the educational rights of the backward community.

The verdict came on a bunch of petitions by anti-quota activists, opposing the government’s move saying that caste cannot be the starting point for identifying backward classes. With this judgment, the interim order of March 29, 2007, staying the implementation of the Act has been lifted. Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh said that efforts would be made to implement it from the coming academic session.

It is expected that hundreds of students that belong to the OBC category will benefit from it. He said the Supreme Court judgment vindicated the UPA government's commitment towards social justice.

The outside supporter of the ruling UPA, the CPM, has demanded that the government take immediate steps to implement the quota from the coming academic year. The CPI (M) is also hopeful of using the issue for the coming elections. The government policy would increase the quote of reserved seats to 49.5 percent in educational institutions that are established, maintained or aided by the federal government became law in January 2007. It allows the number of non-reserved seats to be increased so that it doesn't fall below existing levels.

The main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party, however is in a jeopardy as a large chunk of its cadres are from upper castes, and it cannot use the policy for electoral gain. The party is neither against or for reservation.





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