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Governments kept ignoring SC, ST creamy layer order: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court order that the creamy layer of SCs and STs be kept out from enjoying the benefits of the quotas on jobs and admissions was given 13 years ago, but the successive governments have yet to implement it. Instead, they have repeatedly urged the court to refer the matter to a bench of seven judges for reconsideration. The top court has since 2006 reaffirmed its decision at least nine times in various cases.

The latest was in 2018, when it dismissed a plea by attorney general KK Venugopal to refer the issue to a bench of seven judges. He raised the demand again on Monday before Chief Justice SA Bobde, dubbing the issue as “sensitive”. The Chief Justice said he would take a call on the matter in two weeks.

Last year, while making the demand, Venugopal had claimed that the creamy lawyer concept was wrongly extended to SCs and STs in 2006 by a five-judge bench, and that it was not envisaged by a larger nine-judge bench that first applied the concept in 2000. A Constitution bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra rejected the attorney general’s plea, and reiterated that the concept would apply to SCs and STs, too.

The creamy layer concept was first applied in the Indra Sawhney case, or the Mandal case, as a facet of the larger equality principle. Eight members of a nine-judge bench had then agreed that the creamy lawyer must be identified and excluded from the backward classes. This would more appropriately serve the purpose and object of reservation, the court had said.

In 2006, in what is known as the Nagraj case, the court said the creamy layer concept would be applied to SCs and STs as well.

The concept involves application of a means test or imposition of an income limit, for the purpose of excluding people whose income is above the limit from the backward class.

The creamy layer has to be excluded and economic criterion is to be adopted as an indicium or measure of social advancement, the court had said, adding that socially advanced people must be excluded from reservations.

Source: Economic Times