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Quota: What does 'creamy layer' mean?

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The term "creamy layer" was first used during the 1992 Supreme Court judgement on the Mandal Commission recommendations asking for 27% reservations for other backward classes (OBCs) in central government jobs. While the Supreme Court meant that the more privileged among the backward classes do not dominate the reserved categories, the bare bones of the criteria for judging the creamy layer was left with the state governments.

Many state governments did come up with some criterion while others like Kerala have not. Some principles have been laid down by the Supreme court in the 1992 judgement on the creamy layer. These include chidren of constitutional functionaries including the President, Vice-President and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. Children of the members of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) are also excluded as are Group A and B or Class I and II officers of all-India and state services. Children of certain public sector employees are also excluded. Certain property-related ceilings, on irrigated and unirrigated land holders, and plantation owners have also been imposed, and in certain cases children whose parents have an annual income of over Rs 2.5 lakh are also excluded. Children of doctors, dentists, engineers, chartered accountants, IT consultants, media professionals, authors, and sports professionals are also included in the creamy layer.

State governments have been given the leeway to determine who they deem to be an OBC, and grounds for exemptions have also been made clear in each case.

First Published: Thu, April 10 2008. 18:46 IST
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