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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Other Backward Classes (OBC) Certificate is issued by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • It has a validity period of up to one year.
  • It is usually issued by the Tehsildar.
  • The Certificate is of two types: OBC A and OBC B.
  • OBC A refers to the Non-Creamy Layer group.
  • OBC B refers to the Creamy Layer group.
  • The Creamy Layer refers to income groups which earn more than 8 Lakh Rupees per annum.

INTRODUCTION

In Hinduism, society was divided into four major castes, based upon one’s birth and occupation. These were Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Apart from this, there was also a group of people who were treated as outcasts and untouchables. They came to be known as Dalits. After eons of oppression and mistreatment at the hands of upper castes, the Government finally took steps to give them a fair representation in society. Added to this, another group which had been neglected was Tribals. They had not been integrated into mainstream society and had remained cut off for decades. As a result, the Government introduced steps for their upliftment which was done through reservation of quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs and educational institutions. The list of SCs and STs have been notified in the First Schedule of the Constitution of India.

However, it was later realised that there was another class of citizens that had remained backward throughout centuries and were leading impoverished lives. This group came to be identified as Other Backward Classes (OBCs). They did not belong to a particular section of the society like the SCs and the STs but they were people from various communities whose income levels were below the poverty line. The OBCs were given recognition through the 93rd Amendment and have been recognised since the 1990s. They are notified as Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in the Constitution of India. Under Article 304, it is obligatory for the Government to promote the welfare of the OBCs.

BACKGROUND

On 1st January 1979, the formation of the Second Backward Class Commission, with Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal heading it, took place during the tenure of Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The Commission was formed to find out about the ‘socially’ and ‘educationally’ backward classes in India. The Commision came up with 11 criteria to determine who can be classified as an OBC, 4 of which were economic factors.

According to the Mandal Commission Report, a reservation quota of 27% in all public sector jobs and educational institutions was proposed. This was implemented during the tenure of the then Prime Minister, Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Thus, a person holding a certificate classifying him as a part of OBC would be eligible to avail the benefits of the reservation scheme.

THE OBC CERTIFICATE

The OBC Certificate is similar to a Caste Certificate. Just as a Caste Certificate is a document specifying the caste of a candidate, the OBC Certificate is a proof that a person belongs to the OBC category.

  • TEJ PAL SINGH VS. GOVT. NCT OF DELHI [1999 SCC OnLine Del 1092]: Held that a certificate issued by a competent authority is to enable the authorities to believe the assertion of a candidate that he belongs to the SC category. This case laid the foundation that a certificate was necessary to avail the benefits of the reservation.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED

To apply for an OBC Certificate, one needs:

  • 10th Marksheet/ Admit Card/ School Certificate
  • AADHAR Card
  • Income Certificate
  • Residential Proof
  • Voter ID
  • Birth Certificate
  • Caste Certificate from any paternal relative
  • Passport Size Photographs

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

The following conditions need to be fulfilled in order to be eligible for applying for an OBC Certificate.

  • The applicant must be a citizen of India.
  • The applicant belongs to the OBC category.
  • The applicant has an annual income of less than 8 Lakh Rupees, excluding income from agriculture/farming (for Non-Creamy Layer Certificate)
  • The applicant’s parents are employed in Group C and Group D categories under the Central Government.
  • The applicant is himself working under Central Government’s Group B category and his/her parents are not receiving pension.
  • The applicant’s husband works under the Central Government and her parents do not receive any kind of income.

NOT ELIGIBLE

The following people are not eligible for an OBC Certificate:

  • Applicants belonging to backward Castes and Most Backward Communities
  • Applicants whose parents are employed under Group A services
  • Applicants whose parents are employed under Group 1 of the State Government
  • Applicants whose parents earn more than 8 Lakh Rupees per annum

VALIDITY

The OBC Certificate is valid in every state of India, except in Tamil Nadu, for a period of up to one year. The period of validity starts from the day of reception of the Certificate.

BENEFITS

A person who holds a valid OBC Certificate is entitled to the following benefits, which are conferred upon him/her.

  • 27% reservation in Government jobs and Government institutions
  • Relaxation with respect to upper age limit for various competitive examinations
  • Relaxation with respect to number of attempts for various competitive exams
  • Relaxation with respect to cut-off marks

TYPES

The OBC Certificate is of two types. OBC A type is for people who belong to the Non Creamy layer. OBC B type is for people who belong to the Creamy Layer. People who come under the latter are not eligible for availing the benefit of the reservations given by the Government.

NON CREAMY LAYER

This category within the OBCs is eligible for availing reservations. If the total family income is less than 8 Lakh Rupees per annum, the person falls under the category of Non Creamy layer within the OBCs. The Non Creamy Layer Certificate is issued by the tehsildar of the concerned State Government. However they can also be issued by the Revenue Officer, District Magistrate, Deputy Commissioner, Collector, or any Sub-Divisional Officer.

In 2015, the National Commission for Backward Classes recommended to split this section into 3 sub categories: ‘Backward’, ‘More Backward’, and ‘Extremely Backward’ so that stronger OBCs do not cover the 27% quota benefit entirely.

CREAMY LAYER

The term ‘Creamy Layer’ is used to denote that section of the OBCs that are comparatively better off than the rest. They are relatively forward and have access to resources. They are not eligible for government aided educational programs and reservations in the professional sphere. In 1971, the Sattanathan Commission brought this term into existence and directed that the Creamy layer should be excluded from the benefit of reservations and be treated at par with the General Category, that is, All India Unreserved (AI UR). Furthermore, the Supreme Court, in 1992, stated that the Creamy Layer should be excluded by fixing a ‘income, property or status’ criteria. In addition, the children of Group A/Class I officers of the Central and State Services, Group B/Class II officers of Central and State Services and Armed Forces were also exempted. The income criteria (income earned from all sources) fixed for determining the extent of the Creamy Layer was initially earning more than 1 Lakh Rupees in 1971, which increased to earning more than 8 Lakh Rupees in 2017. This included households with landholdings of over 10 hectares, of which 4 hectares were under irrigation. However, the status or income of the candidate and his/her spouse shall be excluded when determining the Creamy Layer qualification.

  • INDIRA SAWHNEY AND ORS. VS. UNION OF INDIA [1992 Supp 3 SCC 217]: Held that 27% reservation was valid, however, the Creamy Layer should be exempted from the provision of reservation.
  • ANNAPPA S/O BEERAPPA HOSUR VS. STATE OF KARNATAKA [(1999) 5 SCC 188]: Held that while calculating annual income, applicant’s income is to be excluded.

IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS

The following are some additional points that are to be kept in mind with regards to obtaining the OBC Certificate.

  • When it comes to the applicant’s parents working under the Government, the status of the job is more important than the salary earned. For example, if their income is more than 8 Lakh rupees per annum but they are working as Group C or Group D officers, the applicant will still be eligible to be counted in the Non Creamy Layer category.
  • However, if the parents of the applicant are employed in the private sector, their annual income will be counted solely.
  • Here, income and salary are treated differently. The basic criterion is that neither income nor salary should exceed the cap of 8 Lakh Rupees per annum in the last 3 consecutive years.
  • The OBC Certificate is different from the EWS certificate. Under EWS, the Income and Asset certificate is required, whereas, under OBC, the Income and Wealth Certificate is needed.
  • All top executive level posts in PSUs are treated as Group A posts and are part of the Creamy Layer.
  • If a Group B/Class II officer is promoted to Group A/Class I after the age of 40, his children will be eligible for the reservation.
  • However, if such a promotion takes place before the age of 40, the children will not be eligible for availing the reservation.


IMPORTANT CASE LAWS

  • AMITA GIRI VS. LT. GOVERNOR ANR.S [W.P(C) No. 879/2017]: Held that OBC Certificates of other states can be issued based OBC Certificate issued to paternal side only.
  • RAJ KUMAR GIJROYA VS. DELHI SUBORDINATE SERVICES SELECTION BOARD [(2016) 4 SCC 754]: Held that Caste Certificate would be accepted even if it was submitted after the cut off date. It cannot be refused to be accepted.

CONCLUSION

As we have seen in this article, it is a tedious task to apply for and get hold of an OBC Certificate. There are ample conditions to be fulfilled before one is eligible for it. This struggle is only a tiny part of the struggle the Backward Classes have had to undergo to receive the representation and respect they duly deserve in mainstream society. The Other Backward Classes faced a lot of backlash and criticism when the Mandal report was implemented. Mobs took to streets and armed protesters created a lot of disruption. Even today, reservation for Other Backward Classes incites a lot of debate and arguments which, more often than not, turn violent. Unfortunately, the main victims of such violent discrimination are the people for whom such a provision was made in the first place, that, the under represented OBCs. They still face the same prejudice that they used to face before such a provision was made for their upliftment. However, times have changed and they are more empowered and well equipped with the forces of education and employment. India hopes to see that every part of her vast and diverse population is equally represented and can lead a quality life without fear of discrimination and violence.


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