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Current Affairs

Creamy layer principle in Sc/ST quota for promotion

Date: 09 December 2019 Tags: Judiciary & Judgments

Issue

The Centre has urged the Supreme Court to refer to a larger Bench its decision last year had to apply the creamy layer principle to promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.

 

Background

The petitioners claimed that amendments were brought to reverse the effect of the decision in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992 (Mandal Commission case), in which the Supreme Court had excluded the creamy layer of OBCs from reservation benefits.

 

Details

  • In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018), the court dealt with a batch of appeals relating to two reference orders, first by a two-judge Bench and then by a three-judge Bench, on the correctness of the Supreme Court’s judgment in M Nagaraj & Others vs Union of India (2006).

  • The Nagaraj case, in turn, had arisen out of a challenge to the validity of four Constitution amendments, which the court eventually upheld.

  • The court said reservation should be applied in a limited sense, otherwise it will perpetuate casteism in the country.

  • It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, it will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely”. In other words, the court extended the creamy layer principle to SCs and STs too.

  • Last year, a five-judge Constitution Bench refused to refer the Nagaraj verdict to a larger bench. It held as “invalid” the requirement laid down by the Nagaraj verdict that states should collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs in granting quota in promotions.

  • when a Court applies the creamy layer principle to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, it does not in any manner tinker with the Presidential List under Articles 341 or 342. It is only those persons within that group or sub-group, who have come out of untouchability or backwardness by virtue of belonging to the creamy layer, who are excluded from the benefit of reservation.

Important amendments

77th Amendment: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.

82nd Amendment: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs “for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.

85th Amendment: It said reservation in promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employee.

 

Way Forward

  • The whole object of reservation is to see that backward classes of citizens move forward so that they may march hand in hand with other citizens of India on an equal basis.

  • This will not be possible if only the creamy layer within that class bag all the coveted jobs in the public sector and perpetuate themselves, leaving the rest of the class as backward as they always were.