You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » PTI
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

Keep creamy layer out of SC, ST quotas: SC
Related Articles
Quota: 'Creamy layer should not be excluded'

The Reservation Issue

Get news updates:What's this?
October 19, 2006 18:49 IST
Last Updated: October 19, 2006 19:11 IST

In a setback to those clamouring for quotas without any bar, the Supreme Court on Thursday held that the "creamy layer" should be excluded from the reservations for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.

Upholding the constitutional validity of reservations for SCs and STs in recruitments and promotions, the court maintained the upper limit of quota at 50 per cent and the state will have to justify in each case the compelling reasons for providing reservations "keeping in mind the overall efficiency of state administration".

"It is made clear that even if the state has compelling reasons, the state will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling limit of 50 per cent or obliterate the creamy layer or extend reservation indefinitely," a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal said.

The court said while providing reservations the state has to ensure that the controlling factors mentioned in Article 16(4) read with Article 335 are taken care of and to preserve the structure of egalitarian equality the concept of creamy layer has to be maintained as held in the Indra Sawhney judgement in the Mandal Commission matter.

The judgment, pronounced on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of various amendments providing for reservation, assumes significance in the context of political parties demanding that those belonging to affluent families and second generation beneficiaries should not be excluded from the reservation system.

The court said, "We reiterate that the ceiling limits of 50 per cent, the concept of creamy layer and the compelling reasons namely backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency are all constitutional requirements without which the structure of equality of opportunity in Article 16 would collapse."

Holding that Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B) did not alter the structure of Article 16(4), the Bench also comprising Justices K G Balakrishnan, S H Kapadia, C K Thakker and P K Balasubramanyan said, "These amendments are confined only to SCs and STs.

"They retain the controlling factors or the compelling reasons, namely backwardness and inadequacy of representation, which enables the state to provide for reservation keeping in mind the overall efficiency of the state administration under Article 335."

The court held that "the carry-forward or backlog vacancy in term of Article 16 (4B) cannot be continued for indefinite period.

"They do not obliterate any of the constitutional requirements, namely, ceiling limit of 50 per cent (quantitative limitation), the concept of creamy layer (qualitative exclusion), the sub-classification between OBC on one hand and SC and STs on the other as held in the Indra Sawhney case."

Maintaining that the main issue concerns the "extent of reservation", Justice Kapadia, reading the verdict for the bench, said, "The concerned state will have to show in each case the existence of compelling reasons, namely, backwardness, inadequacy of representation, and overall administrative efficiency before making provisions for reservation."

The court held that the provision providing reservation was an "enabling provision" and the state was not bound to make reservation for SC/STs in the matter of promotion.

However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision the state has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335, the bench said.

The two important questions, which were argued before the court were whether the width of the amendment abrogates the basic structure of the constitution. Secondly, the balancing and structuring of equality in employment under Article 16.

Holding that in order to maintain the structure of equality within the backward castes, that is, between OBCs on the one hand and SCs/STs on the other hand, the court said,"The concept of creamy layer, which is a qualitative exclusion, has to be retained as constitutional requirement."

"The concept of creamy-layer is based on the means test to strike a balance with the secular notion," the bench observed.

The court held that the catch-up principle and the concept of consequential seniority cannot be elevated to the status of axioms like "secularism", "federalism", etc. and "they do not constitute the basic feature of the Constitution."

While concluding the judgment, the court clarified that it has not examined the validity of individual enactments of appropriate states and that question will be gone into in individual writ petitions by the appropriate bench in accordance with the law laid down in the present case.

© Copyright 2008 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 Email this Article      Print this Article

© 2008 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback