June 12, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination



THE CONTEXT: A proposal to revise the criteria for defining the “creamy layer” among OBCs has been pending for years, and MPs have raised the issue during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament.



  • It is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.
  • Based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission), the government on August 13, 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court on November 16, 1992 (Indira Sawhney case) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.


  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • On September 8, 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail benefit of OBC reservation.
  • For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  • For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  • For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  • If the parents enters Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  • Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  • There are other criteria as well.
  • Income from salaries or agriculture land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer, according to a DoPT clarification issued on October 14, 2004.


  • During the Monsoon Session, MPs raised two questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
  • In response, the government said “A proposal for revision of the income criteria for determining the Creamy Layer amongst the OBCs is under consideration of the Government.”
  • In Rajya Sabha, three MPs have asked whether the provision of creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.
  • On July 22, Minister of State Jitendra Singh referred to the Indira Sawhney ruling.
  • He said that in Civil Service batches between 2015 and 2019, 63 candidates selected for IAS were not given appointment because “they were treated as falling under creamy layer”.
  • Other than the income limit, the current definition of creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelt out on September 8, 1993 and clarified on October 14, 2004.
  • No other orders for definition of creamy layer have been issued by the government.
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