New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that an individual candidate's income was not required to be clubbed with the income of the parents for the purpose of determining "creamy layer" to exclude a person of backward class from the benefits of reservation.
Referring to the Centre's Office Memorandum of 1993 on the issue and judgements of the apex court, a bench comprising justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra set aside the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which took consideration of the income of the candidate, a chartered accountant, to declare that the family belonged to the "creamy layer".
"The aforesaid determination was rendered by reading down the policy instructions issued by the state government, on the basis whereof, the backwardness of a candidate had to be adjudged.
"The aforesaid policy instructions were read down, to include the income of the person concerned, along with the income of the parents of the person, contemplated by the policy instructions," the bench said.
"It is not possible for us to accept, that the individual's own income could have been taken into consideration," the bench said after analysing the Centre's office memorandum of September 8, 1993 issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension (Department of Personnel & Training).
The apex court noted that even with reference to category IV, which includes professional's (like CA), the income of the professional, has not been included.
"Thus viewed, we are satisfied, that on the plain reading of category VI of the office memorandum of September 8, 1993, that it was not the income of the individual concerned, but that of his parents, that would determine whether he would fall within the creamy layer or not," the bench said while allowing the appeal of a candidate filed through advocate R K Kapoor.
The candidate's appointment as accounts officer in Punjab State Electricity Board was not accepted as he was declared to be under "creamy layer" criteria of backward class based on his income clubbed with that of his parents.
"We are of the view that the high court clearly erred in reading down the office memorandum September 8, 1993 and to include therein the income of the individual concern while determining whether or not he fall within the creamy layer," the bench said while quoting its findings in previous judgements.
"In view of the above, there is no room for any further consideration, whether or not the individual's income is to be taken into consideration, while computing the total income relevant to determine whether an individual belongs to the creamy layer. The above clarification reveals, that it is only the parents income, which has to be taken into consideration," the bench said.
"Thus viewed, we are satisfied that the individual's income was not required to be clubbed with the income of his parents, while determining whether or not he was eligible to be granted a backward class certificate. The determination to the contrary by the high court is liable to be set aside. The same is accordingly hereby set aside," the bench said.