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“Increasing creamy layer ceiling for OBCs”

  • Category
    Governance
  • Published
    28th Feb, 2020

A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh has been tasked to upwardly revise the gross annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh fixed for defining the creamy layer among Other Backward Classes.

Issue

Context

A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh has been tasked to upwardly revise the gross annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh fixed for defining the creamy layer among Other Backward Classes. 

Background:

  • Originally, reservation for Dalits, Adivasis and the Other Backwards Classes did not specify any income criteria. Neither were any such riders introduced by central or state legislation. The sole basis of reservation was caste.
  • In 1993, it was the Supreme Court of India which brought the concept of the “creamy layer” through its judgement in the Indira Sawhneycase.
  • The court said putting inthe framework of the “creamy layer” was in keeping with the basic structure of the Constitution as it mapped to the principle of equality.
  • Exclusion of such socially advanced members will make the ‘class’ a truly backward class.
  • The principle, however, only applied to the Other Backward Classes, not Dalits and Adivasis, who are acknowledged as the country’s most backward communities.

The Indra Sawhney Case:

  • The Indra Sawhney case was decided by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1992.
  • The case is famous for decisively laying down several landmark propositions such as:
    • 50% threshold in reservations
    • the bar against reservations in certain types of posts
    • the exclusion of ‘creamy layer’
  • This piece is, however, limited to the debate on using caste as a factor in determining the backwardness of a group and how Indra Sawhney settled this debate to change the course of India’s reservation jurisprudence and policy forever.



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