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Court skims cream off OBC quota

With the SC stating that the creamy layer should be excluded from the ambit of OBC reservation, the Union Cabinet will now address the issue, reports Bhadra Sinha and Chetan Chauhan.
Hindustan Times | By Bhadra Sinha/Chetan Chauhan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 11, 2008 02:33 AM IST

With the Supreme Court stating that the creamy layer should be excluded from the ambit of OBC reservation, the Union Cabinet will now address the issue. HRD minister Arjun Singh said he will take up the matter with the Cabinet and would also try to meet the Prime Minister in this regard.

The HRD Ministry had excluded creamy layer from OBC reservation benefit in its original bill. But following stiff resistance from UPA allies in the Cabinet, the ministry extended reservation to all OBCs. The creamy layer was excluded on advise of the Law ministry, a senior HRD ministry official said.

Singh said the government may not be in a position to overrule the Supreme Court's verdict on creamy layer. “How can the government overrule?” he said, when asked if the government had the option to overrule the decision.

He identified exclusion of creamy layer as one of the major problem areas in quick implementation of reservation from the next academic year.

Upholding the 93rd amendment in the Constitution the SC reiterated its view that creamy layer should be excluded from the benefit of reservation. The five-judge constitution bench said a person who belongs to a creamy layer cannot be socially and educationally backward.

The definition of creamy layer, the court said, will be determined in accordance to the government notification issued in 1993, pursuant to the Mandal Commission judgment. According to the notification, government officers of class II and above rank and who have a gross income of over Rs 2.5 lakh per annum are included. This means that this class of people, even among the backward classes identified by the government cannot get the benefit of reservation.

The bench unanimously concluded that “backward class” couldn't be identified solely on the basis of caste. Referring to the Constitution, the bench said if the ultimate aim of its framers was a casteless and classless society, then it was pertinent to “chew” it out.

“As Father of the Nation had once said, if the caste system, as we know is anachronism, then it must go,” said Justices Arijit Pasayat and CK Thakker in their judgment. According to them the backward status vanishes when somebody becomes part of the creamy layer. “The benefits of reservation are snatched away by the top creamy layer of the backward classes and this has to be avoided at any cost.”

Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said the creamy layer principle is introduced merely to exclude section of a particular caste on the ground that they are economically advanced or educationally forward. “They are excluded because unless this segment of caste is excluded from that caste group, there cannot be proper identification of the backward class.”

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