Reservation

Madras High Court quashes internal reservation for Vanniyars

Published : November 01, 2021 16:13 IST

PMK founder S. Ramadoss. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has quashed the Tamil Nadu government’s legislation providing 10.5 per cent internal reservation for Vanniyar caste in the 20 per cent pool of the Most Backward Classes (MBC) reservation in education and employment.

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has quashed the Tamil Nadu government’s legislation providing 10.5 per cent internal reservation for Vanniyar caste in the 20 per cent pool of the Most Backward Classes (MBC) reservation in education and employment.

A batch of writ petitions filed against the law were filed in Chennai and some at Madurai. The principal seat of High Court was hearing the case. But since a couple of judges recused themselves from the case, the Chief Justice sent it to Justice M. Duraiswamy who, with Justice K. Murali Shankar, was hearing it at Madurai.

The bench had earlier rejected the State government’s request to put on hold its verdict so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Expressing its displeasure over the fact that students had already been admitted under the quota in the current academic year, it clarified that as the legislation itself had been quashed, the Government Order (G.O.) in this regard and its implementation also stood cancelled.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which literally forced the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami to enact the legislation on the last day of the last session of the Assembly just prior to the Assembly election, expressed shock and dismay over the judgment.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government, headed by Chief Minister M. K. Stalin, issued a G.O. to implement the internal reservation with retrospective effect from Februay 26. The G.O., issued on July 26, effected changes in the 200-point roster prescribed in Schedule V to the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act, 2016 to facilitate the internal reservation. The G.O. said: “This reservation will be followed for government jobs and educational institutions from this academic year.” It also ensured that the special reservation was implemented in admissions in all educational institutions, including private ones and in appointments in State government departments, against which other caste groups went to court.

K. Balu, PMK spokesperson and lawyer, said: “We are shocked. It is a setback for social justice for which the PMK has been fighting for long. We urge the Tamil Nadu government to go for an appeal.” The Tamil Nadu government, however, may go in for an appeal after the Minister for Higher Education consults with Chief Minister Stalin.

The issue was mired in controversy from the very first day. While tabling the Bill, Edappadi K. Palaniswami had told the Assembly that it was based on the recommendations of the Justice Janarthanan Committee and was a temporary arrangement. He also claimed that the Justice Kulasekaran Committee, appointed by his government, was undertaking a caste survey and after getting the complete data, the reservation slab could be modified.

When he was the Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi had split the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation into two blocks: Backward Classes (B.C.) and Most Backward Classes (MBC), thus evading the plea of an exclusive reservation for Vanniyars. He clubbed Vanniyars and its sub-caste groups under the MBC category, which included the Denotified Communities such as Maravas, Ambalakarars and Piramalai Kallars and a few other B.C. castes. Since then, the PMK and other Vanniyar outfits have been demanding exclusive reservation for them.

The Supreme Court had fixed a ceiling of 50 per cent for reservations in 1992. The Tamil Nadu government, under Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, passed the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institution and of Appointments or posts in the Services under the State) Bill, 1993, which received constitutional protection after its inclusion in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

The 69 per cent reservation in Tamil Nadu is split into three slabs: Backward Classes: 30 per cent (Non-Muslim quota of 26.5 per cent for 252 castes, Muslim quota 5 per cent); MBC: 20 (10.5 per cent for Vanniyars, 7 per cent for 68 Denotified Communities and 2.5 per cent for other 41 castes); Scheduled Castes: 18 per cent (Arunthathiyar 3.5 per cent); and Scheduled Tribes: 1 per cent.

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