Economic Criterion Cannot Be The Sole Basis For Identifying ‘Creamy Layer’: Supreme Court

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Economic Criterion Cannot Be The Sole Basis For Identifying ‘Creamy Layer’

Case: Pichra Warg Kalyan Mahasabha Haryana vs. State of Haryana

Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose

Case No: WP(C) 60 of 2019

Court Observation: “..the State of Haryana has sought to determine ‘creamy layer’ from backward classes solely on the basis of economic criterion and has committed a grave error in doing so. On this ground alone, the notification dated 17.08.2016 requires to be set aside”

“We quash the notification dated 17.08.2016, giving liberty to the State Government to issue a fresh notification within a period of 3 months from today after taking into account the principles laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney-I and the criteria mentioned in Section 5(2) of the 2016 Act for determining ‘creamy layer’.”

This Court in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India ‘Indra Sawhney-II’ examined certain questions relating to the recommendations made by the said High-Level Committee. After thoroughly examining the factors which were given emphasis in the various opinions rendered in Indra Sawhney-I for determining ‘creamy layer’ amongst the backward classes, this Court 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 above-mentioned categories were necessary to be excluded from backward classes. This Court in Indra Sawhney-II held that the exclusion of the above-mentioned categories is a ‘judicial declaration’ made in Indra Sawhney-I

“The criteria mentioned for identifying such of those persons who are socially advanced have not been taken into account by the Government of Haryana while issuing the notification dated 17.08.2016. While issuing the notification dated 07.06.1995, the State Government had followed the criteria laid out in the memorandum issued by the Union of India on 08.09.1993, which was in tune with the directions given by this Court in Indra Sawhney-I.

In spite of Section 5(2) of the 2016 Act making it mandatory for identification and exclusion of ‘creamy layer to be on the basis of social, economic and other relevant factors, the State of Haryana has sought to determine ‘creamy layer’ from backward classes solely on the basis of economic criterion and has committed a grave error in doing so. On this ground alone, the notification dated 17.08.2016 requires to be set aside.

Therefore, we quash the notification dated 17.08.2016, giving liberty to the State Government to issue a fresh notification within a period of 3 months from today after taking into account the principles laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney-I and the criteria mentioned in Section 5(2) of the 2016 Act for determining ‘creamy layer’.”

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