Income not sole yardstick to determine creamy layer, says Supreme Court, strikes down 2016 Haryana govt order

By: |
August 25, 2021 12:24 PM

A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose delivered the verdict while quashing a 2016 notification by the Haryana government.

The court observed that other criteria like social, educational and other factors must be taken into consideration before defining a creamy layer.

In a move that could lead to a certain creamy layer getting back the reservation benefits, the Supreme Court yesterday said that state governments cannot make annual income the sole criteria to select a creamy layer from within a backward class, thus barring them from reservation benefits. The court observed that other criteria like social, educational and other factors must be taken into consideration before defining a creamy layer.

A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose delivered the verdict while quashing a 2016 notification by the Haryana government which denied reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to those with annual income over Rs 6 lakh among the backward classes. It also asked the Haryana government to issue a new notification within three months to determine a creamy layer by considering social backwardness and other factors besides the financial criteria.

The court said that the notification violated the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act, 2016, which mandates considering social, economic as well as other factors while defining the creamy layer.

The bench ruled that the Haryana government’s notification dated August 17, 2016 deciding creamy layer only on the monetary ground was in flagrant violation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case.

The court also said that the Haryana government had wrongly clubbed income from salaries and agricultural land while determining the gross annual income for defining the creamy layer. The current annual income ceiling for the creamy layer under the central government rules is Rs 8 lakh.

The apex court made the observations while hearing a plea challenging the validity of the 2016 notification. The plea was filed by an organisation ‘Pichra Warg Kalyan Mahasabha’. The organisation contended in its plea that the 2016 notification violated the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case.

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