Tamil Nadu

SC refuses to stay Vanniyar reservation

The Indian Supreme Court building is seen in New Delhi on August 24, 2017. India's Supreme Court ruled on August 24 that citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, a landmark verdict that could have wide-reaching implications for the government's flagship biometric programme. / AFP PHOTO / Sajjad HUSSAIN

The Indian Supreme Court building is seen in New Delhi on August 24, 2017. India's Supreme Court ruled on August 24 that citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, a landmark verdict that could have wide-reaching implications for the government's flagship biometric programme. / AFP PHOTO / Sajjad HUSSAIN

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a Tamil Nadu State law , which temporarily provides 10.5% special reservation to Vanniakula Kshatriyas within the quota for the Most Backward Classes (MBCs).

The Bill was tabled by the previous AIADMK government and passed in the Assembly barely an hour before the model code of conduct kicked in for the February 26 last Assembly elections.

“We are not going to stay the legislation… We have to hear the matter,” a Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat addressed senior advocates S. Nagamuthu, Anita Shenoy and advocate Sriram Parakkat, for the petitioners.

The petitions were filed challenging, generally, the 69% reservation in Tamil Nadu as violative of the Supreme Court’s 1992 Indira Sawhney judgment, which fixed the quota ceiling limit at 50%.

On this aspect, Justice Rao orally remarked that about 25 years have passed since the 69% reservation law came into force in Tamil Nadu. “Till now matter has not been decided,” he said.

On Mr. Nagamuthu’s insistence, the Bench tagged the petitions with others pending in the court, challenging Tamil Nadu’s reservation percentage.

‘Politically motivated’

The petitions challenging the “exclusive” reservation for Vanniakula Kashatriyas argued that this law was “politically motivated” and meant to appease political allies.

“On February 21, just one hour before the election notification, in a hurried manner, a Bill was introduced in the State Legislature providing exclusive reservation for the Vanniakula Kashatriyas to the tune of 10.5%. That is, 7% for 25 castes plus 68 de-notified communities and 2.5% for the other 22 other most backward communities. The MBC was made into three sub-classifications. The Bill was not circulated to the Members before it was introduced,” the petitions said.

The Governor assented to the Act on February 28. “It was hurriedly published in the official gazette on the same day, bringing it into force at once,” they noted.

The Act stated that the internal reservation for the Vanniakula Kashatriyas was recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission. “There was no such recommendation made by the commission,” the pleas said.

They referred to the one-man Commission of Justice A. Kulasekaran, constituted in December 2020, to “identify the number of castes and tribes in the State of Tamil Nadu and collect quantifiable data for each of these identified castes and tribes” and submit a report to the State government in six months.

“What was the extreme urgency to introduce the Bill without waiting for six months for the report of the one-man Commission,” they asked.

The passing of the law showed “legislative incompetence, manifest arbitrariness, non-compliance of election model code of conduct and violation of equality”.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2022 9:03:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sc-refuses-to-stay-vanniyar-reservation/article35096310.ece