Centre to Extend Reservation to Private Sector Higher Education Institutions

The government plans to introduce a Bill in the budget session and expects that it will muster the support to pass in both houses of parliament.

New Delhi: Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday announced that reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and economically weaker sections in the general category in higher education will be extended to all private institutions from the new academic year beginning in July.

According to the Indian Express, the Centre may introduce a Bill the parliament’s budget session to implement the decision. The 93rd amendment to the Constitution in 2006 – under the Congress-led UPA government – accommodated reservation in the private sector.

The Centre is confident that the decision to extend reservation to private higher education institutions will muster the support to pass in both houses of parliament.

“The private institutions will implement reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs too. All the 40,000 colleges and 900 universities will implement reservation,” Javadekar said.

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Many private institutions currently provide reservation, although it is not mandated by Central law.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) chairman Anil Sahasrabuddhe told Indian Express that a “majority of recognised private institutes provide reservation for students as directed by the state they are located in”.

“With the exception of Rajasthan and West Bengal, almost all state governments make it mandatory for technical institutes and colleges to provide reservation for SC, ST and OBC students,” he said.

The HRD ministry has not yet finalised how private sector reservation will be implemented. “In all probability, we will leave it to them [institutions] and ask them to put up their action plan (for implementation) on their websites,” the Indian Express quoted a ministry official as saying.

Private educational institution bodies were measured in their reaction to the announcement. The Education Promotion Society of India (Epsi) said reservation will have to be implemented with state governments’ consultation.

Epsi president G. Vishwanatt told The Telegraph, “The state private universities come under the state governments. The central government cannot enforce reservation in state private universities without the consent of state governments.”

H. Chaturvedi, director of Noida-based Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) and EPSI alternate president, said private institutions will follow the reservation provision if the government follows the legal process.

“The Centre will have to pass a law and then the state assemblies will have to do the same,” he said.

Economically weaker section quota

After the 124th amendment to the Constitution allowing reservation based on economic criteria gained the president’s assent, the government may introduce it through an executive order this week.

A release issued by the Press Information Bureau said:

The government has decided that from the academic year 2019-20 itself, 10 per cent Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota will be implemented across 40,000 colleges and 900 universities in the country. This 10 percent quota for EWS will be over and above the existing quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs and general seats.

The release also confirmed that adequate additional seats will be created in these colleges and universities to implement the EWS quota. This is to ensure that the quota of SC,ST, OBC and general seats are not affected. The UGC and the AICTE will be provided with the operational mandate within a week to implement the quota.

Estimates say that the intake will need to be increased by almost 25% to accommodate the EWS reservation without affecting the existing categories.

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The income criteria for the EWS quota will be implemented along the same lines as the OBC creamy layer. A person whose family’s gross annual income is below Rs 8 lakh will be eligible to apply for the quota. The family includes “the person who seeks the benefit of reservation, his/ her parents, siblings below the age of 18 years, his/ her spouse, and children below the age of 18 years”.

There are an estimated 9.28 lakh seats in central institutions. It is expected that they will be permitted to stagger the 25% increase in seats, with no deadline emerging yet for the implementation.

The ministry has also not clarified if institutions will be aided in the expected Rs 4,000 crore additional spending required to accommodate the increased intake.