Creamy layer: Wealth test, socio-economic status to be criteria for exclusion from BC quota

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Specifying a fresh income and wealth criteria for identifying persons in the ‘creamy layer’ among the backward classes (BC) to exclude them from the purview of reservation in public employment and educational institutions, the Haryana government has ordered that children whose parents have a gross annual income of 6 lakh and above or who possessed wealth above 1 crore for last three consecutive years will not be entitled for BC reservation. Income from all sources will be clubbed to arrive at the gross annual income.

The fresh criteria have been notified on directions of the Supreme Court which on August 24 had quashed a Haryana government notification from August 17, 2016 pertaining to identification of creamy layer from backward classes solely on the basis of economic criterion.

The new criteria are broadly on the lines of recommendations made by the National Commission for Backward Classes in its 2015 review of income criteria for creamy layer.

The 2016 notification also did sub-classification of backward classes which was held arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution by the Punjab and Haryana high court. Besides, fixing income criteria as 6 lakh for identifying and excluding the BC ‘creamy layer’, the 2016 notification divided the remaining BCs who were eligible for reservation into two groups on the basis of their annual.

The first group comprised persons whose gross annual income was up to 3 lakh and the other whose income was between 3-6 lakh.

The new creamy layer

The Haryana welfare of scheduled castes and backward classes department, in a November 17 notification, has also excluded sons and daughters of Class 1 and 2 officers of central, state and all India services from the purview of BC reservation.

Children of officers holding equivalent or comparable posts in public sector undertakings, banks, insurance organisations, universities have also been excluded from the BC quota.

As per the notification, children of armed forces personnel, including paramilitary forces whose either or both parents are in the rank of major or above, and children whose family owns land more than the permissible limit under the land ceiling law have also been excluded from the BC quota.

Children of constitutional personalities or persons holding constitutional posts including MPs and MLAs have been excluded from the purview of reservation.

BC sub-classification held arbitrary by the HC

The August 2016 ‘creamy layer’ notification, held arbitrary by the high court, had sub-classified the BCs stating that children of persons having gross annual income up to 3 lakh shall first of all get benefit of reservation in services and admission in educational institutions.

The left-out quota shall go to that class of BC citizens who earn more than 3 lakh but up to 6 lakh per annum. The sections of backward classes earning above 6 lakh per year shall be considered ‘creamy layer’ as per the 2016 notification.

While directing the state government to issue a fresh creamy layer criteria within three months, the apex court said a notification issued by the Haryana government on June 7, 1995 was in tune with the SC judgement in Indira Sawhney case.

The 1995 notification excluded certain persons who held constitutional posts and those who were in employment of the state and the Centre in higher posts from the benefit of reservation.

In addition, the social advancement of other categories was taken into account for the purpose of including such categories in ‘creamy layer’.

The apex court said according to the August 2016 notification, the identification of ‘creamy layer’ among backward classes was strangely restricted on the basis of economic criteria only.

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