The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a bunch of petitions challenging the Centre's decision to fix Rs 4.50 lakh as the minimum annual income for the people among Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to be regarded as "creamy layer" or elite who would not be eligible for various benefits.
A Bench headed by chief justice S H Kapadia decided to examine the rationale behind the Centre's October 13, 2008, order that raised the income criterion to Rs. 450,000 from Rs.250,000.
While admitting the petitions challenging the income criteria for determining the creamy layer, the Bench, also comprising Justices K S Radhakrihnan and Swatanter Kumar, asked the Centre to put on affidavit the assumptions on the basis of inflation etc that was considered for determining the figure Rs 4.50 lakhs.
The apex court had on December 15, 2008, issued a notice to the Centre on the petitions challenging the revision of the income criterion for determining creamy layer among Other Backward for admission to educational institutions.
Noted academician P V Indiresan and the others, including civil rights body Nair Service Society of Kerala, have questioned the government notification.
The notification provided that a backward category person would be regarded as an elite or creamy lawyer within the community only if his or her annual income is at least Rs 50,000 or above. In that case, the person would lose reservation benefits, including those in state jobs or admission in educational institutions.
The government changed the income criterion after the apex court's April 10 ruling.
A constitution bench of the apex court had on April 10, while upholding the law for 27% quota for OBC category students in state-run institutions of higher learning, stipulated that students belonging to the 'creamy layer' have to be kept out of the quota.
Arguing for Indiresan, senior counsel K K Venugopal said that the Government's October 13 notification would defeat the very purpose of the April 10 ruling.
Venugopal argued that the notification would ensure that no person among the backward category is dubbed as belonging to the 'creamy layer' and stand to lose reservation benefits as envisaged by the apex court ruling.