New Delhi: The Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), headed by four-term BJP MP Ganesh Singh, has recommended that an individual’s salary should not be included while calculating the annual household income that decides eligibility of family members for reservation benefits, ThePrint has learnt.
The committee, which met Tuesday, also recommended increasing the annual income ceiling for creamy layer category of the OBCs from the current Rs 8 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. OBCs, barring those who come under the creamy layer category with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh and above, are entitled to 27 per cent reservation in central government jobs and admission to educational institutions.
Parliament sources told ThePrint that the committee has submitted its recommendation to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
The Narendra Modi government had recently proposed to increase the income ceiling for determining the creamy layer category of OBCs from the current Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh. It had also proposed including a person’s salary as part of the gross annual household income while deciding if members of the family are eligible for quota benefits.
With many from OBC families likely to end up not getting the benefits if the changes are accepted, the proposal has been put on the backburner now, fearing a backlash ahead of the assembly elections in Bihar scheduled to be held later this year.
The Prime Minister’s Office has asked an informal group of ministers (GoM), headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, to deliberate on the proposal again.
The Singh-led GoM had earlier recommended increasing the income ceiling to Rs 12 lakh and including salary as part of annual household income.
Committee met to discuss Modi govt report on creamy layer
The parliamentary committee met Tuesday to consider an action taken report submitted by the government on “Rationalization of creamy layer in employment for OBCs in services and posts under the control of government of India including Union territories and Public Sector Undertakings”.
Speaking to ThePrint, one of the panel members said, “The committee was of the view that including an individual’s salary in the gross annual income to determine if he/she is eligible for reservation benefits will be counterproductive. It will leave out a large number of OBCs who are otherwise eligible for reservation benefits. Instead, the committee has recommended that quota benefits should be given on the basis of social and educational backwardness.”
In 2017, the NDA government had increased the income ceiling from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh to decide the creamy layer category. Those with annual parental income (excluding income from farming and agriculture land) of Rs 8 lakh and above, those holding constitutional positions and those who enter Class-A positions in the government sector come under creamy layer and are excluded from all quota benefits.
‘Will defeat the whole purpose of reservation’
One of the MPs who attended Tuesday’s parliamentary party meeting said the committee was of the view that including salary as part of annual income would deprive many genuine beneficiaries from the OBC communities of quota benefits and a chance to come out of social backwardness.
“Instead of the perception that it will benefit many more OBCs, the committee thinks that including salary to the annual household income will deprive many genuine beneficiaries. Suppose, the combined salary of a husband and wife in a government job is Rs 13 lakh, which is more than the proposed Rs 12 lakh income ceiling, the couple’s children won’t be eligible for 27 per cent reservation in admission to government colleges or jobs. This will defeat the whole purpose of reservation,” said the MP, who did not wish to be named.
The Committee on Welfare of OBCs has 26 members — 20 from the Lok Sabha and six from the Rajya Sabha. Fourteen of the 26 MPs in the committee are from the BJP.
The committee, in its original report submitted in February 2019 had noted that in spite of four revisions of the income criteria since 1997, the 27 per cent vacancies reserved in favour of OBCs are not being filled up, which is amply clear from the data received from 78 ministries and departments regarding representation of OBCs in the posts and services of the central government as on March 1, 2016.
According to the data, of the 32.58 lakh government employees, which includes Group A, B, C, the number of those from OBCs are 7 lakh or 21 per cent of the quota for them as against 27 per cent. The maximum number of OBCs (6.4 lakh or 22.65%) are employed in Group C, which comprises mainly the safai karamcharis or the sanitation department staff.
“This leads to the inference and also apprehension that when stringent conditions are imposed for determining the creamy layer, the directive of the government to fill up 27 per cent of the vacancies by OBCs may not be achieved,” the committee had noted in its report.
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