The West Bengal Assembly passed a Bill on Thursday providing reservation for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) , Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in State-run colleges and universities.

While 22 per cent seats in each stream of these higher educational institutions will be reserved for students belonging to the SC community, six per cent of the seats will be for students from the ST category and 17 per cent for those from OBC categories.

The State Government will, for the purpose, need to have 415,408 additional seats in the undergraduate courses and 30,334 seats in postgraduate courses. This will be done in a phased manner and Rs.1069.14 crore will be required to achieve the target.

Students belonging to the creamy layer that will be specified by a rule issued later will not benefit from the reservation that comes into effect from the academic year beginning 2014 and will not exceed 50 per cent of the total seats.

Participating in the discussion, Leader of the Opposition in State Assembly Surya Kanta demanded that the description of “creamy layer” be provided in the legislation itself.

Referring to a similar legislation passed by the Centre aimed at reservation of seats for students belonging to the OBC category, Dr. Mishra said the State Government should study the legislation passed by the Centre to avoid any hiccups in implementation of the Bill.

“If they have any doubts about the legislation tabled in the State Assembly they can send the Bill to a select committee of the House”, Dr. Mishra said, adding that “political will is more important than any Bill”.

Senior MLA of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Anisur Rahaman said that reservation for students belonging to SC and ST communities was already in force through executive orders and the legislation has only made fresh provisions for students belonging to the OBC category.

Replying to the issues raised, Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu said that the State Government has the necessary will to implement reservations in higher educational institutions of the State.

He said the provision of reservations will be applicable to all universities in the State, even those that are not under the State Higher Education Department.

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