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Parties favour law for social justice in education

Special Correspondent

Multiparty panel to provide inputs to the drafting process

NEW DELHI: A Central law providing for social justice and elimination of commercialisation of education emerged as the preferred response of the polity on Tuesday to the situation arising out of the Supreme Court judgment abolishing quotas and reservation in private unaided professional colleges.

A majority of the leaders who attended an all-party meeting, convened here by Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh, emphasised the need for ensuring that minority rights as enshrined in Article 30 of the Constitution were protected while drafting the legislation.

Emerging from the three-hour meeting, Mr. Singh told reporters that a multiparty committee would be set up to provide political inputs to the drafting process. Appreciating the consensus across the political spectrum, he said party leaders had authorised him to set up the committee, which would be broadly representative.

Refusing to divulge details of the strength of the committee or who would head it, Mr. Singh said it would provide a window for continuous consultations while drafting the law "which will have to be done carefully." Asked whether the use of the word "carefully" meant having a provision, which would ensure that it was not struck down, he indicated that this would not be possible. As for the time frame for drafting the law, he said it was set by the Supreme Court, which permitted status quo on admissions till the next academic session.

BJP stand

The broad agreement notwithstanding, the Bharatiya Janata Party said that as 90 per cent of higher education was in the private sector, care should be taken to ensure that its expansion was not thwarted.

The Left parties spoke of commercialisation of education, with Gurudas Dasgupta of the Communist Party of India demanding reasonable service conditions for teachers and other employees of private institutions.

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