New Delhi, April 15: For Arjun Singh, implementing OBC quotas in higher education this year is more important than bickering with the Supreme Court over the exclusion of the creamy layer.
The human resource development ministry has firmed up plans to amend the OBC quota law, leaving the creamy layer out of reservations in keeping with the Supreme Court verdict last Thursday, top sources said today.
The ministry has circulated a cabinet note on the amendment to seven other ministries that have some stake in centrally run higher education institutions, the sources said.
General elections are due before the 2009 academic session starts, and Arjun is keen to maximise gains from the quotas this year, a source close to the minister said.
The HRD ministry, in the cabinet note, has asked each of the seven ministries to urgently draft their response. The ministries of health, culture, social justice and empowerment, minority affairs, science and technology, women and child development and home affairs will have to send their comments directly to the cabinet committee on political affairs.
We do not want any delay. Ideally, we want to try and introduce the amendment in this session of Parliament, a source said.
The cabinet note is unlikely to pass through Parliament easily, though, with several UPA allies and some Congress leaders adamant that creamy layer students should also benefit from the quotas.
The ministry of social justice and empowerment is yet to decide its stand on the creamy layer debate, a source close to minister Meira Kumar said.
The current definition of the creamy layer, upheld by the apex court, ensures that those with a family income of over Rs 2.5 lakh a year will not benefit from the quotas.
Any change in the definition will be based on a recommendation of the Backward Classes Commission. But the commission, a member said, is unlikely to be able to draft a proposal in a hurry.
In all likelihood, students with a family income of over Rs 2.5 lakh will be excluded from the quota this year. Things may change from the next academic session though, a social justice ministry source said.