Creamy layer is a term used in Indian politics to refer to the relatively forward and better educated members of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who are not eligible for government-sponsored educational and professional benefit programs. The term was introduced by the Sattanathan Commission in 1971, which directed that the "creamy layer" should be excluded from the reservations (quotas) of civil posts.
The creamy layer (income) criteria were defined as annual family income from all sources more than 100,000 rupees (₹ or INR, together abbreviated Rs 1 lakh) per annum in 1993, and revised to ₹ 2.5 lakh (2004), then ₹ 4.5 lakh (2008), Rs 6 lakh (2013) and Rs 8 lakh (2017). In October 2015, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) proposed that a person belonging to OBC with an annual family income of up to Rs 15 lakh should be considered as the minimum ceiling for OBC. The NCBC also recommended the sub-division of OBCs into 'backward', 'more backward', and 'extremely backward' blocs and divide 27% quota amongst them in proportion to their population, to ensure that stronger OBCs don't corner the quota benefits.
The Supreme Court of India defined the "creamy layer," quoting an Indian governmental office memorandum dated 8 September 1993. The term was originally introduced in the context of reservation of jobs for certain groups in 1992. The Supreme Court has said that the benefit of reservation should not be given to OBC children of constitutional functionaries—such as the President, Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, employees of central and state bureaucracies above a certain level, public sector employees, and members of the armed forces and paramilitary personnel above the rank of colonel (SCs,[clarification needed] STs,[clarification needed] and the unreserved[clarification needed] are exempt now).
The children of persons engaged in trade, industry and professions such as a doctor, lawyer, chartered accountant, income tax consultant, financial or management consultant, dental surgeon, engineer, computer specialist, film artists and other film professional, author, playwright, sports person, sports professional, media professional or any other vocations of like status whose annual income is more than ₹ 800,000 (Rs 8 lakh) for a period of three consecutive years are also excluded. [OBC children belong to any family earning a total gross annual income (from sources other than salary and agricultural land) of less than Rs 6 lakh for a period of three consecutive year—as the 1993 income ceiling for the creamy layer was raised from ₹ 100,000 (Rs 1 lakh, when the office memo was accepted) to Rs 6 lakh for a period of three consecutive years (in May 2013). Individuals belonging to the creamy layer are also excluded from being categorised as "socially and educationally backward" regardless of their social/educational backwardness.
Application on SC/ST quota
The 'creamy layer' categorization is currently meant only for the OBCs and are not applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The reasons cited for this parity is that the provisions for reservations for SC/ST are not for their economical benefits but for their social upliftment. Thus, SC/ST reservations are applicable irrespective of the financial status of the beneficiaries.
- "Income ceiling for creamy layer raised to Rs 4.5 lakh". Business Standard. 2013.
- "Centre raises OBC creamy layer criteria to Rs 4.5 lakhs". Reddiff News. 2008.
- "Income limit of 'creamy layer' hiked to Rs. 6 lakh per annum". NDTV. 2013.
- Ghildiyal, Subodh (2015). "Raise 'creamy layer' to Rs 10.5 lakh: OBC panel" (online). The Times of India (5 May). Retrieved 26 February 2016.
- "OBC creamy layer income limit raised to ₹8 lakh per annum". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
- Page no 8 ; points 8,9,10. "Office Memorandum regarding the revision of criterion for Creamy Layer" (PDF). Department of Personnel and Training.
- Ghildiyal, Subodh (2015). "OBC panel backs off, won't make 'creamy layer' reservation criteria stringent" (online). The Times of India (27 October). Retrieved 26 February 2016.
- Ghildiyal, Subodh (2015). "OBC sub-division, relaxing creamy layer is a must: NCBC tells govt" (online). The Times of India (26 October). Retrieved 26 February 2016.
- Venkatesan, J. (2008). "Caste can be the basis to determine backwardness, rules Supreme Court" (online). The Hindu (11 April). Retrieved 26 February 2016.
[Subtitle:] OBC should be deemed to mean SEBC after exclusion of creamy layer … [Article opening;] New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that caste can be the basis for determining Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) for providing 27 per cent reservation in Central higher educational institutions. / Writing the main judgment, Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said: 'Though for the purpose of convenience, the list is based on caste, it cannot be said that backward class has been identified solely on the basis of caste. The only possible objection that could be agitated is that in many of the castes included in this list, there may be an affluent section (creamy layer) which cannot be included in the list of SEBCs.' / He added: 'When socially and educationally backward classes are determined by giving importance to caste, it shall not be forgotten that a segment of that caste is economically advanced and they do not require the protection of reservation.'
- "Quota: What does 'creamy layer' mean?". Business Standard.
- "Supreme Court judgement on OBC quota in education institutions".
- Srivastava, Sharad Kumar [UnderSecretary to the Govt. of India] (2013-05-27). Subject: Revision of the income criteria to exclude socially advanced persons/sections (Creamy layer) from the purview of registration for Other Backward Classes (OBCs)-reg (Office Memorandum No. 36033/1/2013-Estt. [Res.]). New Delhi, IND: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Personnel and Training.
- Page no 14,15;note no 4,5,6. "Reservation brochure" (PDF).
- BS Reporter (2008). "SC definition is set to kick up more dust". Business Standard (16 April). Archived from the original (online) on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
[Subtitle:] But there`s trouble over creamy layer… [Article opening;] What is 'creamy layer'? Introducing the concept in the context of reservation in jobs in 1992, the Supreme Court had said the benefit of reservation should not be given to children of constitutional functionaries such as president, judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, employees of central and state bureaucracies above a certain level, public sector employees, armed forces and paramilitary personnel above the rank of colonel, lawyers, chartered accountants, doctors, financial and management consultants, engineers, film artistes, and authors. Children of those earning Rs. 2.5 lakh ($5,500) per year were also kept out. / In the context of today’s judgments, some lawyers believe that according to this definition, the quota go-ahead will not apply to IIMs and AIIMS.
- "'Can't keep SC/ST creamy layer out of quota benefits'". The Times of India. 2015.
- Central Creamy layer criteria 1993, clari fications 2004, 4.50 lakhs OM 2008 etc.
- Jee IITM Information.
- National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) government website.