Centre says it’s not bound by SC creamy layer order
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In a stance that seeks to maintain status quo on SC/ST reservations, the UPA government today said it was not in any way bound by the recent Supreme Court judgment favouring the exclusion of the creamy layer from recruitment and promotion benefits under quota norms.
Addressing the press, Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachauri quoted the opinion of Attorney-General Milon Bannerjee that the court's ruling could not be said to automatically apply on the existing SC/ST quota for a variety of technical reasons.
In the A-G's view, it was a five-member Bench that adjudicated on the Nagaraj case last month and hence its opinion could not overrule that of the nine-judge Bench that had been constituted for the Indira Sawhney case of 1992, the final verdict on the Mandal petitions.
In that case, the Supreme Court made no mention of excluding the creamy layer in the SC/ST quota and it was only applicable for the OBCs.
Quoting the A-G, Pachauri also said the apex court's recent observation on excluding the creamy layer from the SC/ST quota came in form of an obiter dictum — a verbal opinion expressed during the verdict, which was not strictly part of the main judgment — and therefore was not binding on the Government.
Besides, he said, the Supreme Court had previously upheld four constitutional amendments (77, 81, 82 and 85) on issues relating to position, promotion, service, and backlog in the SC/ST quota confirming the existing policy.
The Ministry of Personnel had sought the A-G's view on the matter after the Supreme Court verdict. This was after a GoM on Dalit Affairs, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, was formed to evolve the Government's response on the creamy layer issue.
The extension of reservation benefits to the entire body of the reserved category has always been a political minefield. The Government's decision to brazen it out with its conservative interpretation of the issue gains significance in light of the ongoing debate of whether to exclude the creamy layer from the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in higher education.
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