No substantial basis for treating Vanniyars differently: SC

The top court had earlier agreed to examine the pleas and said admissions or appointments already made under the said quota will not be disturbed

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the 10.5 per cent reservation provided to Vanniyars, a Most Backward Community (MBC) in Tamil Nadu, in government jobs and admission to educational institutions saying there is no substantial basis for treating them differently.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai upheld the Madras High Court order which had quashed the reservation.

“We are of the opinion that there is no substantial basis for classifying Vanniakula Kshatriyas into one group to be treated differently from the remaining 115 communities within the MBC groups and, therefore, the 2021 Act is in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. Therefore, we uphold the decision of the high court,” the bench said.

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The top court said though caste can be the basis of internal reservation, it cannot be the sole basis.

The apex court had earlier refused to refer the matter to a larger bench saying that it was of the view that the issue does not need consideration by a larger bench.

“We are not inclined to the argument of referring the matter to a larger bench, you can start your arguments,” the bench said.

The top court had earlier agreed to examine the pleas and said admissions or appointments already made under the said quota will not be disturbed.

The apex court’s judgement came on a batch of petitions filed by the state of Tamil Nadu, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), and others challenging the November 1, 2021 judgement of the high court quashing the reservation provided to Vanniyars, saying it was unconstitutional.

The high court had said the state government cannot come out with such a legislation providing reservation to Vanniyars without any quantifiable data on population.

The impugned enactment has been passed by the state without any quantifiable data on population, educational status and representation of the backward classes in the services and the sub-classification done by virtue of the impugned Act solely based on population data, in the absence of any objective criteria, is illegal in the eye of law and in violation of the Constitution of India…

Is the state government empowered to do internal reservation. The Constitution has given enough explanation. The legislation providing for internal reservation is cancelled, the high court had said.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly had in February last year passed the then ruling AIADMK-piloted bill providing internal reservation of 10.5 per cent for Vanniyars, with the incumbent DMK government issuing an order in July this year for its implementation.

It had split the aggregate 20 per cent reservation for MBCs and denotified communities into three separate categories by regrouping castes and provided a ten per cent plus sub-quota for Vanniyars, formerly known as Vanniakula Kshatriyas.

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