Explained:Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota for promotion: judgments, appeals

News:Recently,the Centre has urged the Supreme Court to refer to a larger Bench its decision that had applied the creamy layer principle to promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.


About Creamy Layer Concept for SC’s and ST’s:

  • The creamy layer concept was first applied in the Indra Sawhney case, or the Mandal case in 1992.
  • In 2006, in what is known as the Nagraj case,the court had said that the creamy layer concept would also be applied to SCs and STs as well. 
  • The concept involves application of a means test or imposition of an income limit for the purpose of excluding people whose income is above the limit from the backward class. 
  • In Jarnail Singh case, another five-judge Bench led by the then Chief Justice of India upheld the 2006 verdict’s reasoning that the creamy layer principle was based on the right to equality.
  • These judgments of the apex court had arisen out of a challenge to the validity of four Constitution amendments.

About the amendments:

77th Amendment Act,1995: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.

81st Amendment Act,2000: It introduced Clause 4B, which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year to find out whether the total quota has breached the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.

82nd Amendment Act,2000: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.

85th Amendment Act,2001: It said reservation in promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employees.

Additional information:

About Article 335:

  • Article 335 of the Constitution relates to claims of SCs and STs to services and posts.
  • It says that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.