Reservation Quota to Vanniyyars

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    In News

    • The Tamil Nadu Government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging the Madras High Court’s November 1 order against internal reservation to Vanniyars in government jobs and higher education.

    About

    • The law provided 10.5% internal reservation to Vanniyars within the overall 20% quota for the Most Backward Classes (MBCs) in government jobs and higher education.
    • The recommendation on 10.5% reservation for the Vanniyakula Kshatriyas was made in commensuration with their population as enumerated in a survey done in 1983 by the Tamil Nadu Second Backward Classes Commission.

    State Government’s stand

    • The High Court order was based on an erroneous view that the State had no legislative competence and that the special reservation was provided with caste as the basis and without quantifiable data.
    • The State had enacted the Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Act in 2021 only based on adequate authenticated data on the population of the Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities enumerated by the Tamil Nadu Second Backward Classes Commission in 1983,” the government contended.
    • Tamil Nadu said the caste-wise population data disclosed by the Commission was the “only authenticated data available as of now before the State, and such data can be used effectively to plan for sub-classification within backward classes of citizens”.

    Court’s stand

    • Treating vanniyar community as a separate class from the other MBCs amounts to discrimination among the same category of castes.
    • The court decided to quash the reservation as unconstitutional on seven grounds which included the competency of the state to provide reservation based on caste, whether reservation can be provided without quantifiable data on population, socio-educational status and representation of the backward classes in services.

    Vanniyyars Communities

    • Even as backward communities such as Thevars and Gounders are largely seen as Tamil Nadu’s socially and politically powerful communities, Vanniyars were one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities that had a consistency in retaining political representation from the 1940s and 1950s.
    • Politically also more represented: 
      • In the political act of bargaining for community representation too, Vanniyars had been far ahead of other backward and Most Backward Communities (MBC) for decades, which includes their organised state-wide agitations in the mid-1980s demanding an exclusive 20 per cent reservation in the state and 20 per cent in central services.

    Vanniyar Movement

    • Massive protests: 
      • Vanniyars are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in the state. They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
    • Political backing: 
      • Their movement was backed by the Justice Party as well as the Self-Respect Movement
      • Organised protests began with the formation of Vanniyar Sangam, headed by S Ramadoss, a medical practitioner who later founded the political party PMK.
    • On ground protest: 
      • The agitation began in 1986 with activists sending hundreds of letters and telegrams to then Chief Minister M G Ramachandran seeking an audience. As there was no response from MGR and the then Rajiv Gandhi government, agitators started demonstrations in community strongholds, then went on to blockade rail and road traffic.
      • The blockades were effective because community members in each village would block busy highway stretches on their village borders. They would cut revenue trees on either side of the state highway.
      • One blockade in May 1986 brought traffic in the entire state to a halt, and thousands were arrested. A one-day blockade of trains followed in December 1986. The peak was in September 1987, when road traffic in northern Tamil Nadu came to a halt for an entire week.
    • Reservation granted:
      • After the DMK government of M Karunanidhi came to power in 1989, the OBC quota was split into two: 
        • Backward Castes and 
        • Most Backward Castes. 
      • Vanniyars were categorised among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
      • Three decades later, the then AIADMK government passed a Bill, and the current DMK government has implemented it with a Government Order ensuring 10.5% reservation for Vanniyars within the 20% MBC quota.

    Tamil Nadu and Reservation

    • The State Government said Tamil Nadu was a pioneer in granting reservation.
    • The Most Backward Classes (MBC) within the Backward Classes were identified in Tamil Nadu as early as 1957 when they were considered equivalent to the Scheduled Castes, but without the factor of untouchability.
    • It said some of these communities were impacted by the criminal tribe’s laws of the British and enlisted as MBCs. 

    Constitutional Provisions for Reservation

    • Article 15(4) and 16(4):
      • Enabled the State and Central Governments to reserve seats in government services for the members of the SC and ST.
    • Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995:
      • The Constitution was amended and a new clause (4A) was inserted in Article 16 to enable the government to provide reservation in promotion.
    • Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001:
      • Later, clause (4A) was modified by the Act to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.
    • Constitutional 81st Amendment Act, 2000:
      • Inserted Article 16 (4 B) which enables the state to fill the unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for SCs/STs in the succeeding year, thereby nullifying the ceiling of fifty per cent reservation on the total number of vacancies of that year.
    • Article 330 and 332 
      • provides for specific representation through the reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies respectively.
    • Article 243D: 
      • provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.
    • Article 233T: 
      • provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.
    • Article 335: 
      • The claims of STs and STs shall be taken into consideration with the maintenance of efficacy of the administration.
    • Part XVI deals with the reservation of SC and ST in Central and State legislatures.

    Previous  Cases

    • Mandal judgment/ Indra Sawhney case 1992
      • The Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney vs Union of India(1992) has been hailed as a landmark judgment as it upheld reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). However, this judgment also held that reservations in appointments, under Article 16(4) of the constitution, don’t apply to promotions.
      • The Supreme Court upheld the Mandal Commission’s 27 percent quota for backward classes, as well as the principle that the combined scheduled-caste, scheduled-tribe, and backward-class beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population. At the same time, the court also struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes in 1992. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that;
      • Backward Classes of the Citizens of in Article 16(4) can be identified on the basis of caste and not only on the economic basis.
      • Article 16(4) is not an exception to Article 16(1)
      • The backward classes in Article 16(4) are not similar to as socially backward classes in Article 15(4) i.e. SC and ST
      • The creamy layer can be and must be eliminated from the Backward Classes.
      • Article 16(4) permits the classification of backward classes into more backward classes.
      • Reservation shall not exceed 50%. The court said that this rule should be applied every year. However, it may be relaxed in favour of people from far-flung and remote areas because of their peculiar conditions. However, extreme caution should be exercised in doing so.
      • Carry forward rule is valid but it is subject to 50%
      • There should be NO reservation in the Promotions.
    • 77th and 85th Constitutional amendment acts:
      • The Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995: 
        • According to this Act, the Government has decided to continue the existing policy of reservation in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Constitution (77thAmendment) Act, 1995 was passed by parliament, inserting Article 16(4A) which allows the State to provide reservations to SCs/STs in matters of promotion, as long as the State believes that this category of the marginalized populations –the SCs and STs – aren’t adequately represented.
      • The Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001: Provided for consequential seniority? in the case of promotion by the virtue of rule of reservation for the government servants belonging to the SCs and STs with retrospective effect from June 1995.
    • Nagraj Case:
      • According to it, the government cannot introduce a quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration. 
      • The opinion of the government should also be based on quantifiable data. 
      • It was made clear that even if the state has compelling reasons, the state will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
      • In the 2006 judgment, the apex court had ruled that the government can provide reservations in promotions to SCs and STs provided it was justified through quantifiable data collected by the State on the inadequate representation of the two communities in various posts.
      • The State is not bound to make reservations for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets:
        • The backwardness of the class.
        • The inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment.
        • The general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected.

    Source: TH