"I am sure all people who want equity in higher education will support this judgment. This OBC facility will not affect other students, as there is no clash of interest," Singh claimed. "People had misunderstood reservation. I have been fighting for this since I was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. I feel vindicated after the court's judgement," said Singh. "This is a very historic judgment. Hundreds of students belonging to the OBC category will be benefited by it," said Singh.
He had introduced the plan to reserve seats for OBCs in Central educational institutes two years ago. "The verdict is revolutionary particularly for the creamy layer. The Centre would ensure that the law providing for 27 per cent quota is implemented from the coming academic session," he added. "We welcome the decision of the apex court and would ask the Government to implement the quota at the earliest possible opportunity," said Debabrata Biswas, General Secretary of the Forward Bloc.
The CPI welcomed the quota judgment, saying the Supreme Court has recognised caste as a basis for social and educational backwardness. CPI National Secretary D Raja said the creamy layer concept could be acceptable in jobs, but it cannot be applied for education.
"Government should now pursue reservations in private educational institutions, including the minority ones," Raja said, and appealed to political parties to accept the verdict in proper spirit.
In its verdict, the apex court pronounced today that the Central Government was legally right to provide OBC quotas in higher educational institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS).
The apex court asked the Government to exclude the creamy layer from the reservation quota. A five member constitutional bench headed by the Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan asked the Government to draw parameters to identify the creamy layer. The court also asked the Government to include children of MPs and MLAs in the creamy layer, thereby excluding them from the quota.
The new policy, if implemented, would take the overall reservation in the Government-funded higher education institutions from the current 22.5 (for SC and ST students) to 49.5 per cent.
The apex court had stayed the implementation of quotas last year, asking the government to clarify the criteria under which reservation should be granted.
On November 1, 2007, the apex court had reserved its judgment after a hearing that lasted 25 days on petitions challenging the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006.
The petitions had said that the creamy layer should not get reservation benefits and that the OBC quota would divide society. The key objection in the case was that the Government had based the quota on a 1931 survey.
Besides the Chief Justice, other members on the Bench included, Justice Arijit Pasayat, Justice C. K. Thakker, Justice R. V. Raveendran and Justice Dalveer Bhandari.
The apex court in its March 29, 2007 interim order had stayed the implementation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, providing 27 per cent quota for OBC.