New Delhi/Lucknow, Oct 3 (UNI) Bowing to pressure from various quarters, the Government today increased the income limit for determining ''creamy layer'' among Other Backward Castes(OBCs) from the existing Rs 2.5 lakh per annum to Rs 4.5 lakh per annum, a measure that would benefit a large number of people belonging to these castes.
Those coming under ''creamy layer'' are excluded from the benefit of reservation.
The revision in the income criteria was approved at a meeting of the Union Cabinet here. It was last revised in 2004.
The Rs 4.5 lakh cut-off slab was recommended by the National Commission for Backward Classes in its report submitted to the Centre in July. The Commission had reasoned that in view of the sharp rise in the cost of living, a rise in the income limit was necessary.
The revision in the income criteria would now benefit a large number of OBCs who otherwise would have been excluded from it in view of the recent Supreme Court Judgement.
Reacting to the decision, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati accused the Centre of cheating the backward classes and said the increase in annual income limit for creamy layers of the backward classes was insufficient.
''The UPA government has now fixed Rs 4.5 lakh as the limit for creamy layer of the backward classes, which is insufficient and not done keeping in view of sky-high inflation rate,'' Ms Mayawati said here.
Terming the step of the central government a 'political humbug,' she said it was done in view of the coming Lok Sabha election.
Ms Mayawati mocked at the UPA for worrying about the backward classes on one side and not doing anything to fill the vacant seats backlog in various departments on the other. Besides, the UPA was doing little for them in higher education institutions, especially the technical institutes, she alleged.
The Supreme Court, while upholding the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in higher educational institutions had recently asked the Government to exclude the creamy layer, following which demands were made from several political parties and other organisations to increase the income limit for determining the layer.
The decision of the Human Resource Development Ministry in 2006 to extend 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in institutions of higher learning like the IITS and IIMs had evoked countrywide protests from some quarters, following which the Centre had appointed an oversight committee on implementation of quota in these institutions.
The committee, headed by Mr Veerappa Moily, suggested an increase in the general seats so as not to harm the prospects of general category candidates.
After the Moily Committee Report, the Parliament passed a legislation for extending the reservation which became an Act on January one, 2007.
However, the Act was immediately challenged in court, which stayed its operation. In March this year, the Supreme Court in its final judgement upheld the Act, but said the creamy layer should be excluded from the benefit.
Briefing mediapersons about the Cabinet decision, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said sons and daughters of persons belonging to the Other Backward Castes and having an annual income below Rs 4.5 lakh will not come under the Creamy Layer and will get the benefits of reservation for OBCs in direct recruitment in civil posts and services and admission in Central Educational Institutions.
Meanwhile, Nair Service Society (NSS), the powerful social organisation of the Nair community in Kerala, criticised the Union Government for raising the income ceiling.
In a statement here, NSS General Secretary P K Narayana Panicker alleged that the decision went against social justice and Supreme Court directives.
The intention behind the decision was to circumvent the court directives which stated that not only social and educational backwardness but economic backwardness should also be taken into consideration on the reservation issue.
UNI Team AKJ PK KP2100