Supreme Court strikes down Tamil Nadu’s 10.5% Vanniyar quota

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has struck down the 10.5% reservation provided to Vanniyars, a Most Backward Community(MBC) in Tamil Nadu, in government jobs and admission to educational institutions.


The Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a Special Reservation Act of 2021 that divided the existing 20% quota for the ‘Most Backward Classes/Denotified Communities’ category into three parts. 

Among them, the largest share of 10.5% was specified as exclusive to the Vanniyar community and its various sub-castes. 

This act was challenged before the Madras High Court. The court declared that the Act was unconstitutional because of a lack of quantifiable data to measure the “extreme backwardness” of the Vanniyars. This High Court verdict was then challenged before the Supreme Court.

What has the Supreme Court said?

The Supreme Court upheld the Madras High Court verdict.

The court said that: 

1) The caste alone cannot be the exclusive basis to grant quota within a reserved category, 2) The allotment of 10.5% reservation to a single community from total MBC quota of 20% in the State leaving only 9.5% to other communities in the MBC category was without “substantial basis”. It violates the fundamental rights of equality, non-discrimination and equal opportunity of other MBCs.

3) ​​There was no assessment or analysis done prior to the 2021 Act to back the claim that the Vanniyars were relatively more backward than the other MBCs.

4) The court further found that the 2021 Act was only ancillary legislation to the 1994 Act and was not in conflict with the latter. (Ancillary legislation means legislation that is supportive of principal legislation).

Note: Reservation in Tamil Nadu comprises 69% under a 1994 Act protected under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Of the 69%, backward classes, including Christians and Muslims, get 30%; MBCs get 20%;  Scheduled Castes 18%; and Scheduled Tribes 1%.

Source: This post is based on the article Supreme Court strikes down Tamil Nadu’s 10.5% Vanniyar quotapublished in The Hindu on 1st April 2022.

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