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Do You Know: Creamy Layer vs. Non-Creamy Layer of OBCs for Competitive Exams!

This article explains the distinction between the "creamy layer" and "non-creamy layer" within the "Other Backward Classes" (OBC) category in India, particularly for UPSC Civil Service Exam aspirants.
creamy and non creamy layer  UPSC Civil Service Exam

How did Creamy Layer Originate?

The inception of the Creamy Layer concept within the Other Backward Classes (OBC) framework can be traced back to the directives of the Mandal Commission. In response to the commission's recommendations, the Central Government issued an Office Memorandum aimed at reserving 27% of positions within central government services for OBCs. However, this initiative faced a legal challenge when it was contested by Indra Sawhney in the Supreme Court in 1992.

Following extensive deliberation, the constitutional bench of the apex court upheld the reservation decision, affirming the allocation of 27% of positions for OBCs in Central Government service. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court's verdict introduced the concept of the Creamy Layer, stipulating that certain affluent segments among the OBC community should be excluded from reservation benefits.

In response, the Central Government established a commission chaired by Justice Ram Nandan Prasad with the specific mandate of identifying this Creamy Layer within the OBC demographic. The recommendations of this commission were duly sanctioned by the Central Government.

Consequently, the Central Government issued comprehensive guidelines and criteria delineating the parameters for distinguishing between the Creamy Layer and non-Creamy Layer among OBCs. These directives remain in effect, serving as the standard for identifying and excluding the Creamy Layer within the OBC category.

It's important to note that the concept of the Creamy Layer is exclusive to OBC reservation policies, with no analogous provision applicable to Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes (ST) reservations.

Key Points:

  • The classification of the Creamy Layer hinges on the occupational standing of individuals' parents.
  • When assessing annual income for Creamy Layer status, salaries and agricultural earnings are disregarded. In the case of government employees, the entry cadre/post holds more significance than their salary.
  • For applicants whose parents entered Central Government service as Class I officers through direct recruitment before the age of 40, or both parents as Class II officers before age 40, they are deemed to belong to the Creamy Layer.
  • However, except for the offspring of the mentioned employees, most qualify for Non-Creamy Layer status. To be classified as Non-Creamy Layer OBC, applicants' parents must not be directly recruited Class I or Class II officers, nor hold constitutional posts like President, Vice President, or Governor.
  • In cases of non-governmental employment, annual income is the primary criterion. It's imperative to separate salary income from other sources. Neither should exceed Rs. 8 lakhs annually for three consecutive years.
  • For those with parents in government employment, the job status (Group A/B/C/D) outweighs the salary. Even if parents earn over 8 lakhs annually but are ranked below Group B officers, the applicant still qualifies for Non-Creamy Layer status.
  • In PSU roles equivalent to government Group A posts, executives are considered Creamy Layer. Similarly, junior management positions in public sector banks, financial institutions, and insurance corporations are also categorized as Creamy Layer.
  • It's crucial to note the distinction between OBC reservation eligibility and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation eligibility. The income and asset certificates required for EWS differ from those mandated for OBC Non-Creamy Layer status.

To qualify as a candidate under the OBC Non-Creamy Layer status, the annual income of the applicant's parents must not exceed Rs. 8 lakhs.

  • When considering government employees, the entry cadre/post holds significance, while salary and agricultural income are not factored into the calculation of annual income for determining Creamy Layer status.
  • During the "Income/Wealth Test" to ascertain a candidate's Creamy Layer status, income from salaries and agricultural land is disregarded. Only if income from other sources surpasses the income limit, individuals are classified as Creamy Layer.
  • It's noteworthy that the income limit for Creamy Layer status has evolved over the years: initially set at Rs. 1 lakh per annum in 1993, it was subsequently raised to Rs. 2.5 lakhs p.a in 2004, then to Rs. 4.5 lakhs p.a. in 2008, and further increased to Rs. 6 lakhs p.a. in 2013, with the current limit set at Rs. 8 lakhs per annum.
  • Typically, the Non-Creamy Layer Certificate is issued by the Tahsildar of the relevant State Government. However, the procedure for obtaining this certificate may vary from state to state.

The Creamy Layer:

  • Members of the OBC category who are considered financially well-off are classified as the "creamy layer."
  • They are not eligible for reservation benefits in government jobs and educational institutions.

Key points:

  • Income limit: Family income exceeds ₹8 lakh per year (excluding income from salaries and agricultural land).
  • Acronym: OBC-CL
  • Benefits: Treated as the General category in exams, no age or attempt relaxation.
  • Certificate: Not required if not claiming reservation.

The Non-Creamy Layer:

  • Members of the OBC category who are not considered financially well-off are classified as the "non-creamy layer."
  • They are eligible for reservation benefits in government jobs and educational institutions.

Key points:

  • Income limit: Family income is less than ₹8 lakh per year (excluding income from salaries and agricultural land).
  • Acronym: OBC-NCL
  • Benefits: Age relaxation, attempt relaxation in exams, and reservation benefits.
  • Certificate: Required for claiming OBC reservation (issued by designated authority).
Published date : 07 Mar 2024 04:15PM

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