J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Wednesday sought a clarification from the Union Government and the Human Resources Development Minister, Arjun Singh regarding the announcement of the 27 per cent reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in educational institutions funded by the Central Government like the Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Technology and other Central universities.

No concession

Referring to the reply sent by the Cabinet Secretary (along with the Minister's reply) that no concession was announcedthe Commission said it had viewed press clippings and visuals in the electronic media on April 6 and found contradictions in the press statement given by Mr. Singh and in his reply.

Press statements said Arjun Singh had made an announcement.

Reply to Commission

But in his reply to the Commission, the Minister claimed to have made no announcement and said the quota was an existing scheme.

(Mr. Singh in his reply said: "Article 15(5) of the Constitution came into force on January 20, 2006 - the date on which it received Presidential assent. Thus advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens in matters of admission - including reservation of seats and any other means - is an existing Constitutional scheme and, by no stretch of imagination, a new announcement.")

The Commission asked the Government and the Minister to clarify their positions by April 18.