Creamy layer

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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 creamy layer criteria was introduced at Rs 1 lakh in 1993, and revised to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2004, Rs 4.5 lakh in 2008 and Rs 6 lakh in 2013.[1] In October 2015, National Commission for Backward Classes proposed the that a person belonging to OBC with an annual family income of up to Rs 15 lakh should be considered as minimum ceiling for OBC.[2] NCBC also recommended the sub-division of OBCs into 'backward', 'more backward' and 'extremely backward' blocs and divide 27% quota amongst them in proportion to their population, to ensure that stronger OBCs don't corner the quota benefits.[3][4]


The supreme Court of India defines "creamy layer" by quoting an office memorandum dated 8 September 1993.[5] 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 6,00,000 for a period of three consecutive years.[6] OBC children belonging to any family that earns a total gross annual income (from sources other than salary and agricultural land[7]) of 6,00,000 for a period of three consecutive years, as the income ceiling for the creamy layer raised from 1,00,000 (in 1993 when the office memo was accepted) to 6,00,000(for a period of three consecutive years) in May 2013, belong to the creamy layer and so are also excluded from being categorised as "socially and educationally backward" regardless of their social/educational backwardness.[8]


The 'creamy layer' concept is currently meant only for the OBCs. This concept is currently not applied to the scheduled castes category and scheduled tribes category.

There are numerous valid reasons for enforcing creamy layer restriction on reservation for scheduled castes category and scheduled tribes category, chief among them being the upliftment of the poor and deprived people in the scheduled castes category and scheduled tribes category rather than the rich people in those categories. The reservations for SC/ST are not for their economical benefits but for their social upliftment, and because of which the state cannot impose creamy layer concept in the case of SC/ST, because it is not just their economic upliftment which the state is trying to achieve but mainly their social upliftment. Which is why imposing the creamy layer on the SC/ST will defeat the sole purpose of social upliftment and defeat the provisions of the constitution.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Raise ‘creamy layer’ to Rs 1.5 lakh: OBC panel". 
  2. ^ "OBC panel backs off, won't make ‘creamy layer’ reservation criteria stringent". 
  3. ^ "OBC sub-division, relaxing creamy layer is a must: NCBC tells govt". 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Front Page : Caste can be the basis to determine backwardness, rules Supreme Court. The Hindu. Retrieved on 2011-12-18.
  6. ^ <official govt site - National Commission for Backward Classes >
  7. ^ Office Memorandum. Government of India. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions. Department of Personnel & Training. New Delhi, dated 14 October 2008
  8. ^ SC definition is set to kick up more dust. But there's trouble over creamy layer. Business Standard. New Delhi. 11 April 2008 The Congress-led government has tried to reach out to Other Backward Communities (OBCs) by drastically relaxing the definition of 'creamy layer' and including those with an annual income of 12 lakh in metros eligible for job reservations. The eligibility level in non-metros will be an annual income of 9 lakh.

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