During the ongoing Monsoon Session, members of parliament have addressed the topic of a proposal to modify the criteria for designating the “creamy layer” among OBCs.
Other Backward class (OBCs)
- The Government of India uses the phrase “other backward class” to designate castes that are educationally or socially disadvantaged. Along with General Class, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes, it is one of India’s official population classifications (SCs and STs).
- According to the Mandal Commission report from 1980, the OBCs made up 52 percent of the country’s population, and 41 percent in 2006, when the National Sample Survey Organization was conducted.
- Reservation for OBCs:
- The Indian Constitution’s Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
- Furthermore, Article 15(4) empowers the state to make exceptional measures to promote the interests and welfare of society’s socially and educationally disadvantaged groups.
- In addition, Article 16(4) of the Constitution states that “nothing in this article 15 shall preclude the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens who, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the state.”
- Furthermore, the government is required by Article 340 of the Indian Constitution to promote the welfare of the OBCs.
- As a result, OBCs are entitled to 27 percent quota in government jobs and higher education. The Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment maintains a dynamic list of OBCs, with castes and groups being included or deleted based on social, educational, and economic reasons. While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government positions and higher education institutions, people who fall into the “creamy layer” (different categories based on income and parents’ rank) are not eligible for this quota.
Concept of “creamy layer”:
- The government had notified 27 percent reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled by direct recruitment, based on the proposal of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission). Following a legal challenge, the Supreme Court (in the Indira Sawhney case) affirmed the 27 percent reservation for OBCs, subject to the creamy layer’s exclusion.
Criteria for “creamy layer”:
- To establish the criteria for identifying the creamy layer, an expert group led by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was formed.
- The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) identified a number of adults of various ranks, statuses, and income levels whose children are ineligible for OBC reservations.
- For people who are not employed by the government, the current income criterion is Rs 8 lakh per year.
- The cutoff for children of government employees is determined by their parents’ rank rather than their income. People whose parents are on constitutional posts, such as Group-A officials, or whose parents are both in Group-B services, are considered cremy layers and hence are not eligible for OBC benefits.
- When defining the creamy layer, income from salaries or agricultural land is not taken into account.
Government’s Proposal to revise the criteria for defining the “creamy layer”:
- According to a draught Cabinet note, the creamy layer will be assessed on all income, including salary for income tax purposes, but not agriculture income.
- The government is considering a consensus of Rs 12 lakh,
- whereas a Parliamentary Committee has recommended that the annual income ceiling for the creamy layer category of OBCs be increased to Rs 15 lakh per year, and that salary and agricultural revenue be excluded when calculating the annual income ceiling.
Source: The Hindu