Vanniyar Reservations: Judgment MatrixTamil Nadu’s Vanniyar Reservation
In a Judgment delivered on March 31st 2022, Justices Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai declared Tamil Nadu’s Vanniyar reservations law unconstitutional. The SC held that even though the State government was legislatively competent to provide internal reservations, it had erred by using antiquated and unreliable data to frame the 2021 Act. The Court found that the 2021 Act discriminates against other Most Backward Classes (MBCs)—who are disadvantaged as they cannot claim this large share of reserved seats.
In a 2021 Act, the Tamil Nadu government provided 10.5% internal reservations in public employment and education to Vanniyars within the 20% seats reserved for Most Backward Classes (MBCs). The Supreme Court, agreeing with the Madras High Court’s earlier ruling on the matter, declared that the Tamil Nadu government failed to justify the policy with data proving the Vanniyar’s relative social, economic, and educational backwardness compared to other MBCs.
The 2021 Act was challenged by persons belonging to other MBCs before the Madras High Court. They claimed that the TN government did not have the power to pass the Act as it was enacted prior to the 105th Constitutional Amendment.
The MBCs further urged that this reservation within the MBC quota discriminated against them as there was no empirical data to support the Vanniyars’ claim to backwardness. The High Court declared the Act unconstitutional, accepting both arguments. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.