Existing income limit for OBCs Non-Creamy Layer is ‘sufficient’: Centre

Why in News?

  • The existing income limit for determining the non-creamy layer (NCL) among Other Backward Classes (OBC) is considered sufficient and hence there is no proposal currently to revise the said income limit, informed the Centre.

What is Non-Creamy Layer in OBCs?

  • Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.

Basis of Creamy Layer

  • It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
  • The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

How is it determined?

  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
  • For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  • For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  • For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  • If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  • Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  • Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).

What is happening now?

  • Many communities have raised questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
  • They have asked whether the provision of a creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has consistently maintained from as early as 2011 that the income limit should be raised to at least ₹10 lakh.

Has it ever been revised?

  • Other than the income limit, the current definition of the creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelled out in 1993 and 2004.
  • The income limit has been revised over the years.
  • No other orders for the definition of the creamy layer have been issued.
  • While the DoPT had stipulated that it would be revised every three years, the first revision since 1993 (Rs 1 lakh per year) happened only in 2004 (Rs 2.50 lakh), 2008 (Rs 4.50 lakh), 2013 (Rs 6 lakh), and 2017 (Rs 8 lakh).
  • It is now more than five years since the last revision.

What is the current NCL limit?

  • Currently, an annual income of both parents of ₹8 lakh or more excludes OBCs from availing reservation.
  • It puts them in the creamy layer category, leaving benefits only for those earning less than that.
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