The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine whether its 2006 judgement against reservations for the “creamy layer” of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions needs to be revisited, PTI reported. The top court decided to place the matter before a five-judge Constitution bench.
The “creamy layer” refers to the relatively wealthier and better educated members of Other Backward Classes, who are not eligible for reservations. There are no income-based restrictions on reservations for members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The 2006 verdict had held that the state is not bound to make reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions in government jobs, Bar and Bench reported. But if the government wishes to introduce such quotas, it needs to collect quantifiable data showing the backwardness of these classes. The order said that if reservation is brought in, it must not breach the 50% ceiling or “obliterate” the “creamy layer”.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court sought clarification on Articles 16(4), 16 (4A) and 16(4B) of the Indian Constitution, which deals with the power of state governments to make provisions for reservation in jobs in favour of any backward class of citizens.
The matter is based on an appeal by the Tripura government in 2015 against a High Court judgement. The petitioners had argued before the Tripura High Court that Section 4(2) of the Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1991, and Rule 9(2) of the SC/ST Rules allowed the state to grant promotions to reserved category candidates against the Supreme Court 2006 judgement. The judges then ruled that the government had promoted Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates to posts meant for general category candidates in an “unchecked manner”, which was unconstitutional.