Economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for identifying the “creamy layer” among backward classes, the Supreme Court said today, scrapping a notification by the Haryana government which framed rules on those lines.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed: “Haryana has sought to determine ‘creamy layer’ from backward classes solely on basis of economic criterion and has committed a grave error in doing so.”
The court asked the Haryana government to issue fresh notification within three months, based on the criteria it mentioned in its past judgments.
The court, however, clarified that admissions to educational institutions and appointment to state services on basis of the notifications dated August 17, 2016 and August 28, 2018 shall not be disturbed.
The Haryana government had issued a notification in 2016 specifying criteria for identifying the “creamy layer”.
Under it, members of backward classes who earn above Rs 6 lakh per annum, shall be considered “creamy layer” under Section 5 of the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act.
An organisation named “Pichra Warg Kalyan Mahasabha Haryana” had approached the Supreme Court, challenging the state’s notification.
They contended that according to the law, social, economic and other factors are to be taken into account to identify and exclude the “creamy layer”. As this is not being done in the new system, the notification is invalid, they contended.
In its verdict, the court referred to the judgment related to the Indra Sawhney case, which held that “persons from backward classes who occupied posts in higher services like IAS, IPS and All India Services, had reached a higher level of social advancement and economic status and therefore, were not entitled to be treated as backward”.
“Such persons were to be treated as ‘creamy layer’ without any further inquiry. Likewise, people with sufficient income who were in a position to provide employment to others should also be taken to have reached a higher social status and therefore, should be treated as outside the backward class. Similarly, persons from backward classes who had higher agricultural holdings or were receiving income from properties, beyond a prescribed limit, do not deserve the benefit of reservation,” the judgment held.