- The Supreme Court will hear a petition to exclude the affluent members from the benefits of reservation and introduce the creamy layer concept for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- This is the first time a petition has been filed urging the Supreme Court to introduce the creamy layer concept for the SCs/STs.
- 1992: In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the court upheld the caste-based reservation for the OBCs as valid.
- The court also said the creamy layer of the OBCs (those earning a specified income) should not get the benefits of reservation.
- The ruling, however, confined the exclusion of the creamy layer to the OBCs and not the SCs/STs.
- 2018: The petition was filed by advocate Shobhit Tiwari.
- He refers to the Constitution Bench’s 2006 judgment in the M. Nagaraj case that the means test (a scrutiny of the value of assets of an individual claiming reservation) should be taken into consideration to exclude the creamy layer from the group earmarked for reservation.
What is the constitutional status of Backward Class?
- The Constitution refers to the term ‘backward classes’ in Articles 15(4), 16(4) and 340(1).
- Articles 15(4) and 16(4) empower the State to make special provisions for any socially and educationally backward class of citizens.
- Article 340(1) authorises the appointment of a Commission (National Commission for Backward Classes) to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
- The commission will work for more equitable distribution of reservation benefits, as it raised the income ceiling for “Creamy layer”
- It has been recommended on the grounds of equity and fair play by not equating these Extremely Backward Classes with the forwards among the backward classes.
- Recently, the Cabinet also increased the “creamy layer” ceiling for the Other Backward Classes to 8 lakh per annum from the existing Rs 6 lakh for Central government jobs.
- The raised limit will also be applicable to public sector undertakings.
Why Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should have creamy layer categorization?
- The petition argues that no class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time.
- Only the backward portion of castes included in the list of SCs/STs alone is constitutionally entitled to the benefits of reservation.
- But the uplifted/affluent and advanced sections of the SCs/STs snatch away the maximum benefit.
- The 95% members of these communities are at a disadvantage.
- The benefits of the reservation policy are not percolating down to the people who are in actual need of them.
Why has the ‘creamy layer’ categorization not being implemented for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes till now?
- The ‘creamy layer’ categorization is currently meant for the OBCs and is not applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- The reasons cited for this parity is that the provisions for reservations for SC/ST are not for their economical benefits but for their social upliftment.
- Thus, SC/ST reservations are applicable irrespective of the financial status of the beneficiaries.
Basic and related terminologies:
Other Backward Class:
- Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are socially and educationally disadvantaged.
- It is one of several official classifications of the population of India.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:
- The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes(STs) are various officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged people in India.
- The terms are recognized in the Constitution of India and the various groups are designated in one or other of the categories.
- Creamy layeris a term used in Indian politics to refer to the relatively wealthier and better educated members of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
- They are not eligible for government sponsored educational and professional benefit programs.
Non creamy layer:
- NC OBCimplies Non Creamy Layer candidates among the OBC
- As per the latest government regulations, any candidate belonging to the OBCcategory and having a family income less than 6lpa belong to the non creamy layer and are entitled to the benefits of reservation.