New Delhi, Apr 10 (UNI) In a historic decision, the Supreme Court today cleared the decks for implementing 27 per cent quota for OBCs in Centrally-run institutions of higher education by upholding the legality of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh promptly welcomed the apex court's ruling as vindication of his stand as well as that of the UPA government's stand and said his ministry would like to see its implementation from the coming academic session.
''It is a historic judgement that would benefit hundreds of students belonging to the OBCs,'' he told reporters here shortly after the judgement was given.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan upheld the validity of the act by a majority of 4:1 with Justice Dalveer Bhandari dissenting.
The apex court also ruled that if the basis of reservation is caste, the creamy layer among these castes must be excluded from the benefits of reservation policy.
Lauding the decision, the Congress said the verdict had 'silenced' the detractors of the UPA government's reservation policy.
AICC Spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi said the judgement was very significant as it upheld "the most remarkable, laudable initiative of the government and also of the Congress Party." He said the UPA government was guided by the principle that there should be co-ownership of the elements of democracy by the backward classes to provide for OBC reservation. A crucial element in this was co-ownership of educational facilities.
The opposition BJP too welcomed the apex court verdict saying it was a victory for the downtrodden sections of the society. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar emphasised that this reservation was very much required.
Taking a dig at Mr Singh, he said had he been little considerate towards the concerns of those opposing it, the implementation could have been without controversies or friction.
''Nobody could exclude a major section like OBC who deserved attention. The BJP always stood by the spirit of social justice,'' Mr Javadekar added.
Party leader Ravishankar Prasad said benefits of reservation for the OBCs should be extended by the minority institutions also. He said the party would be giving a detailed and structured response on the issue at the same time it expected a formal reaction from the Centre on the issue.
Informed sources from the party said the creamy layer issue raised by the apex court is likely to churn an interesting debate because the judgment has conceded the concept of extremely backward castes.
The Left parties also welcomed the decision. CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan and CPI (M) polit bureau member Sitaram Yechury said the judgment was ''very positive'' as the issue has been settled.
They, however, said the concept of the creamy layer was not permissible in the educational sphere.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad also hailed the judgement, saying it would remove a major distortion of Indian society. ''The momentous verdict is a slap on the face of the BJP, which has been indirectly supporting those who have challenged the validity of the 93rd amendment of the Constitution in the court,'' Mr Prasad told reporters.
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