Social Issues

Creamy Layer in SC/STs

Dhyeya IAS | IAS, PCS, UPSC, Best Institute for IAS, PCS Exam Preparation

This article talks about the recent demand of including well-off SCs and STs in the creamy layer. There is also a demand to end reservation for such group in a gradual mannerThe Supreme Court hears a petition to exclude the well-offs among SCs and STs from reservation benefits.

Why demand Raised?

  • There are concerns that the rich among the SC/STs were benefiting from the reservation policies.
  • On the other hand, the intended deserving and impoverished population continue to be excluded.
  • There is lack of percolation of benefits to nearly 95% members of these communities at the bottom, defeating the whole purpose.
  • This is perpetuating the problem of rich-poor divide.
  • It is also becoming a cause of social unrest, especially the Naxalite movements and the perennial problem of poverty.

What is the demand?

  • The petition argues that no class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time.
  • Only the bottom sections of the caste continue to reel under disadvantageous condition.
  • It thus calls for excluding the creamy layer of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from reservation benefits.

Is it legally valid?

  • In 1992, a 9-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case (or the Mandal case) gave a verdict in this regard.
  • It upheld the caste-based reservation for the OBCs as valid.The court also said the creamy layer of the OBCs (those earning a specified income) should not get the benefits of reservation.
  • However, it applied only to the OBCs and not the SC/STs.
  • The current petition refers to a Constitution Bench’s judgment in 2006.
  • The judgment made the value of assets of an individual claiming reservation as a criteria for deciding the creamy layer.
  • It is now for the court to decide on the issue of skewed benefits of measures intended for rooting out social and economic backwardness.