From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Creamy Layer
Mains level : Reservations for OBCs
A proposal for revision of the income criteria for determining the Creamy Layer amongst the OBCs is under consideration of the Government.
What is the Creamy Layer?
- Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
- While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.
Basis of Creamy Layer
- It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
- The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
- After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.
How is it determined?
- Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
- In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
- For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
- For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
- For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
- If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
- Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
- Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).
What is happening now?
- MPs have raised questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
- They have asked whether the provision of a creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.
Has it ever been revised?
- Other than the income limit, the current definition of the creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelled out in 1993 and 2004.
- The income limit has been revised over the years.
- No other orders for the definition of the creamy layer have been issued.
- While the DoPT had stipulated that it would be revised every three years, the first revision since 1993 (Rs 1 lakh per year) happened only in 2004 (Rs 2.50 lakh), 2008 (Rs 4.50 lakh), 2013 (Rs 6 lakh), and 2017 (Rs 8 lakh).
- It is now more than three years since the last revision.
What does the government propose to do about the revision?
- A draft Cabinet note has stated that the creamy layer will be determined on all income, including salary calculated for income tax, but not agriculture income.
- The government is considering a consensus on Rs 12 lakh but salary and agriculture income are also being added to the gross annual income.