" Wealth test" tweak to help determine OBC creamy layer?

NEW DELHI: The law ministry has said that salary and agricultural income should not be included in the "wealth test" of OBCs whose parents work in PSUs and banks, to determine if he belongs to the "creamy layer" - an opinion which can upend the Centre's stance on the issue which has created a permanent source of career crisis for the youth of this category.

Agreeing with the law ministry's opinion, Parliament's "committee on welfare of OBCs" has told the Centre that it should ensure that "salaries" and "agri income" are not considered in the "wealth test" for any category of OBCs.

"Creamy layer" is the section of backward castes which is considered economically advanced and ineligible for reservations. The department of personnel and training has been treating the OBCs from PSU background differently from those working in state or central governments.

The guiding charter (1993 OM) has laid down that Group A and Group B (with caveats) are ineligible for quotas while others are eligible provided their annual income is not above Rs 8 lakh. It states that annual income does not include the "salaries" of parents and "agricultural income".

The Centre has been applying this "exclusion criteria" for wards of persons employed in central and state governments, but in case of PSUs and banks, the Centre has been calculating the "creamy layer" on the basis of salaries of parents, putting the latter at a disadvantage.

While the high courts of Madras and Delhi had slammed the Centre and asked them to apply the same principle for both categories of OBCs, the government chose to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Now, the law ministry has given a categorical opinion contradicting the Centre's stand.

To a clarification sought by Parliament's "committee on welfare of OBCs" through Congress MP B K Hariprasad, the law ministry said that "category II-C" (PSUs/banks etc) would be subjected to the "wealth test" (section VI) mentioned in the 1993 OM. It has said that exclusion of "salaries and agri-income" counts for both the categories.

It contradicts the stance taken by the DoPT in its affidavit in the SC - that not clubbing of "salary" and "agri-income" was not applicable to OBCs from PSU background.

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