Writ Petition Summary (Tamil Nadu’s Vanniyar Reservation)

Tamil Nadu’s Vanniyar Reservation

In February 2021, the Tamil Nadu Government enacted the The Tamil Nadu Special Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions Act, 2021 (the Act) providing 10.5% reservation for Vanniyars in public education and employment within the 20% already reserved for Most Backward Classes (MBCs).

Persons belonging to other MBCs filed a petition before the Madras High Court challenging the Act. The HC invalidated the Act because it contravened the Constitution (One Hundred and Second) Amendment Act, 2018 and the Maratha judgment. The HC further held that the State did not have the power to sub-classify MBCs without empirical data on their backwardness. It stayed new appointments and admissions to TN government services and institutions.

The State of TN and the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a Vanniyar political party, challenged the HC’s judgment at the SC.

What have the petitioners prayed for?

The State of TN and the Pattali Makkal Katchi have asked the Court to pass an interim order staying the judgment of the Madras High Court.

Grounds

The 102nd Constitutional Amendment and Maratha eliminated States’ power to identify Backward Classes, but States retained the power to sub-classify within MBCs.

The 10.5% reservation within MBCs for Vanniyars was proportionate to their population and not excessive. This internal reservation was provided due to their inability to compete with other MBCs in public education and employment. The Act did not deprive other classes in the MBC category of their rights.

The Chairman of the TN Backward Classes Commission had approved the internal reservation for Vanniyars based on empirical data. Therefore, the Act was  neither arbitrary nor discriminatory.

The Madras HC judgment invalidating the Act would likely affect thousands of people who were already admitted to public institutions and State services.