GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court has said states cannot determine "creamy layer" from backward classes, solely on the basis of economic criterion or annual income, as it quashed a notification issued by Haryana by which sections of backward classes earning above Rs 6 lakh per annum were to be considered as a creamy layer.


  1. Citing the top court's judgment in Indra Sawhney case (Mandal Commission case) (1992), a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed that "this Court directed state governments to identify 'creamy layer' amongst the backward classes and exclude them from the purview of reservation".
  2. The bench noted that the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act, 2016, makes it mandatory for identification and exclusion of creamy layer on the basis of social, economic, and other relevant factors.
  3. The State of Haryana has sought to determine 'creamy layer' from backward classes solely on the basis of economic criterion and has committed a grave error in doing so. On this ground alone, the notification dated 17 August 2016, requires to be set aside.
  4. However, the top court said the admissions to educational institutions and appointment to state services on the basis of the notifications dated 17 August 2016, and 28 August 2018, shall not be disturbed.
  5. The Haryana government had clubbed clubbing income from salaries or agricultural land, while it decided on gross annual income for defining creamy layer, which was rejected by the top court.
  6. The bench said the August 2016 notification was in flagrant violation of the directions issued by the top court in the Indra Sawhney case and it was also at variance with the memorandum dated 8 September 1993, issued by the Centre.
  7. The top court judgment came on a petition by Pichra Warg Kalyan Mahasabha, challenging the 2016 notification, arguing that it breached the guidelines laid down by the top court in the Indra Sawhney case.