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The Supreme Court will hear a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the creamy layer, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the benefits of reservation. The members who earn a specified income should be subjected to a means test, a test conducted to scrutinise the value of assets of an individual claiming reservation in order to determine their eligibility.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, will hear the petition which states that the rich among the SCs/STs are “snatching away” the benefits, while the deserving and impoverished continue to “bite the dust.” It is due to the lack of percolation of benefits to the poor that has led to social unrest, Naxalite movements and perennial poverty, it says.This is the first time a petition has been filed, urging the Supreme Court to introduce the creamy layer concept for the SCs/STs. In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the court in the Indra Sawhney case (Mandal case), upheld the caste-based reservation for the OBCs as valid.
The court also stated that the creamy layer of the OBCs should not get the benefits of reservation. The ruling, however, confined the exclusion of the creamy layer to the OBCs and not the SCs/STs. Now, the petition filed by Samta Andolan Samiti, which represents the poor strata of the SCs/STs in Rajasthan, wants the creamy layer of the SCs/STs excluded from the benefits.The petition, filed by advocate Shobhit Tiwari, refers to the Constitution Bench’s 2006 judgment in the M. Nagaraj case that the “means test should be taken into consideration to exclude the creamy layer from the group earmarked for reservation.”“The uplifted/affluent and advanced sections of the SCs/STs snatch away the maximum benefit and the 95% members of these communities are at a disadvantage.
The affluent among the SCs/STs are siphoning off the reservation benefits given to them by the State government as well as the Central government. The benefits of the reservation policy are not percolating down to the people who are in actual need of them,” the petition argues. This lack of percolation of quota benefits to the poorest of the poor ensures that the “weak always remains the weak and the fortunate layers consume the whole cake.” The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The petition argues that no class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time.
The creamy and evolved layer of the SCs/STs benefits from the reservations and puts the people in acute need, in scarcity. The petition claims that only the backward portion of castes included in the list of SCs/STs alone is constitutionally entitled to the benefits of reservation.
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