The creamy layer is a term used in Indian politics to refer to the relatively wealthier and better educated members of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who are not eligible for government sponsored educational and professional benefit programs. The term was introduced by the Sattanathan Commission in 1971, which directed that the “creamy layer” should be excluded from the reservations (quotas) of civil posts and services granted to the OBCs.
The Supreme Court defines “creamy layer” by quoting an office memorandum dated 8 September 1993. The term was originally introduced in the context of reservation of jobs for certain groups in 1992. The Supreme Court has said the benefit of reservation should not be given to OBC children (SCs, STs, and the unreserved are exempt now) of constitutional functionaries such as the president, judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, employees of central and state bureaucracies above a certain level, public sector employees, members of the armed forces and paramilitary personnel above the rank of colonel.
The children of persons engaged in trade, industry and professions such as a doctor, lawyer, chartered accountant, income tax consultant, financial or management consultant, dental surgeon, engineer, architect, computer specialist, film artists and other film professional, author, playwright, sports person, sports professional, media professional or any other vocations of like status whose annual income is more than 450,000. OBC children belonging to any family that earns a total gross annual income (from sources other than salary and agricultural land) of Rs. 450,000, as the income ceiling for the creamy layer raised from 250,000 (US$ 5,500 in 1993 when the office memo was accepted) to 450,000 in October 2008, belong to the creamy layer and so are also excluded from being categorised as “socially and educationally backward” regardless of their social/educational backwardness.
Most of the people in India misunderstand the concept of creamy layer. Following are some key points that usually misunderstood by the people.
- The creamy layer category of the candidate will be decided based on the parent’s post/income but not by the candidate’s self post/income.
- Eligibility regarding a government servants is only based on the level he/she is in, but not by the salary they earn.
- Rs. 450000 criteria will be applied only to business people but not to salaried people even if he/she is a salaried employee in the government/PSU/private organizations.
- Business people’s children will fall under the creamy layer only if they earn Rs. 450000 for a period of three consecutive years.
The “creamy layer” concept is meant only for the OBCs. This concept is not applied to the scheduled castes category and scheduled tribes category.
Non-creamy layer certificate
This certificate is to be produced by “non-creamy” OBCs applying against reserved vacancies for appointment to posts/admission to central educational institutions (CEIs), under the Government of India.
The authorities competent to issue the OBC “Non-Creamy Layer” certificate are indicated below:
(i) District Magistrate / Additional Magistrate / Collector / Deputy Commissioner / Additional Deputy Commissioner / Deputy Collector / Ist Class Stipendiary Magistrate / Sub-Divisional magistrate / Taluka Magistrate / Executive Magistrate / Extra Assistant Commissioner (not below the rank of Ist Class Stipendiary Magistrate).
(ii) Chief Presidency Magistrate / Additional Chief Presidency Magistrate / Presidency Magistrate.
(iii) Revenue Officer not below the rank of Tahsildar and
(iv) Sub-Divisional Officer of the area where the candidate and/or his family resides.