The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that an employee is not entitled to the benefit of reservation, if his gross income puts him in the creamy layer.

The ruling, in case of a Punjab State Electricity Board employee, assumes significance as the board had claimed “the income to be reckoned for consideration for exclusion as creamy layer is that of the parents, and not of the candidate….”

The board had relied on a clarification issued by the Union ministry of Personnel and Training, dated November 21, 2002. In response to a clarification on reservation for “OBCs in civil posts and services” under the government, the ministry had intimated “determination of creamy layer for an OBC candidate is done with reference to the income of the parents”. The clarification had been sought by the Punjab Department of Welfare, Reservation Cell.

The Bench of Justice MM Kumar and Justice Jora Singh ruled: “The question in the present case is that when the parents have gross income of Rs 1 lakh or more, then the exclusion principle would apply and whether the exclusion principle would not apply if the sons and daughters themselves are earning Rs 1 lakh or more as gross income for three consecutive years.

“The answer to the aforesaid question has to be in affirmative because if the exclusion principle to such an affluent person is not applied, the basic object of providing reservation for backward classes would be defeated and the benefits accruing from reservation would be taken away by those who are affluent and belong to the creamy layer because the income of the parents has to be clubbed with that of the children if they claim to be one unit”.

The Bench also quashed the appointment of respondent Surinder Singh as accounts officer under the OBC category.

Challenging the appointment, petitioner Anil Kumar Uppal had claimed Surinder Singh was drawing salary exceeding Rs 1, 00,000 per annum for more than three successive years.

His counsel had contended that the annual income of the respondent has to be taken into consideration, instead of his parents’ annual income, for the benefit of backward class.

The Bench concluded: “Non-exclusion of creamy layer leads to perverting the very objective of special constitutional provisions. It discourages the beneficiaries to stand on their own feet and compete with the forward classes as equal citizens.

Non-exclusion would also keep the backward class in-perpetual backwardness as if by saying: Once a backward class is always a backward class…. We are of the view that the respondent is not entitled to the benefit of reservation because his gross income is more than Rs 1 lakh”.