The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Creamy layer net cast wide

New Delhi, Oct. 19: The Supreme Court today ruled that the creamy layer among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should not be given reservation in government jobs.

A Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal extended the concept of creamy layer — the affluent among the weaker sections — to SC/STs for the first time while upholding the validity of constitutional amendments permitting reservation for SC/ST government employees in promotions.

So far, the creamy layer concept was applicable only to other backward classes (OBCs).

The order came in the middle of a debate among political parties on the inclusion of the creamy layer in quotas for higher education. The creamy layer among the OBCs has been excluded from reservation in government jobs but the yet-to-be-passed enabling bill on higher education quota has so far included the affluent section, too.

The court today stressed that the “creamy layer’’ among SC/STs should be excluded from government job reservation and the cumulative quota ceiling of 50 per cent fixed by the apex court in the Mandal Commission case in 1992 should not be exceeded.

In 1992, the court had struck down promotion on the basis of reservation, after which the Centre moved amendments restoring the facility to all SC/STs and certain other concessions to the rest of the weaker sections like the OBCs.

But the promotion quotas — given only to SC/STs — were challenged in the court, which gave its ruling today.

The judgment — for the first time — sets the stage for classification of SC/STs for separating the creamy layer from reservation.

The court’s order specifically referred to promotions. However, as one of the amendments scrutinised by the bench dealt with initial appointments, the observations made by the court on excluding the creamy layer could also apply to recruitment.

The methodology to identify the creamy layer has been left to be decided by the respective governments.

The court also said backlog in vacancies (due to non-availability of eligible candidates) cannot be carried forward for “an indefinite period”.

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