Affirmative Action and the Marginalized Population: A Study on the Creamy Layer and its Relevance Today

  • Pavan Srinivas National Law School of India University, Bangalore


The creamy layer is examined to identify and prove that the reservations meant for equality, actually reeks of inequality. The author has used standards to determine the relevance of this creamy layer. An attempt has been made to rationalize the exclusion of this layer from reservation, with possible inefficiencies of doing the same. The paper examines the position of law on its exclusion. Three broad submissions have been made about the position of law. First, the creamy layer must be excluded from reservations at the entry level and in promotions. Second, currently the exclusion is applicable only to OBCs and not SC/STs. Third, the creamy layer exclusion should be applicable even for SC/ST reservation in light of M. Nagaraj case which treats the differentiation in the Indra Sawhney case as obiter. The reservation policy based solely on caste has a counterintuitive effect. Those who reap its benefits are often part of the uppermost echelons of society. This paper argues that it is crucial to identify the cause of such fallacious results in reservation. Using the doctrine of classification, this paper argues that the intelligible differentia for such exclusion is economic status, which is inextricably linked to social standing. This ensures that only those not empowered reap the benefits of reservations. This has a rational nexus with the already empowered creamy layer sub-class. This paper contends that the exclusion of this layer from reservations would prove fruitful to achieving the empowerment objective of reservations. Although economic classification was never considered important for social differentiation, the framers of the constitution envisaged economic backwardness within the social framework. This forms a strong justification for excluding the creamy layer from reservations.

Author Biography

Pavan Srinivas, National Law School of India University, Bangalore

Third year, BA LLB (Hons.), National Law School of India University, Bangalore