The Madras High Court on Monday declared a law passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly providing 10.5% internal reservation to the Vanniyar community as unconstitutional, The Hindu reported.
The law earmarked 10.5% quota for the community in government jobs and educational institutions within the 20% reservation for the Most Backward Class category in Tamil Nadu. The law meant that other groups in the category could together avail 9.5% of the seats.
The law was passed on February 26 by the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government minutes before the Election Commission announced dates for Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. The decision was seen as a last-minute attempt to sway voters before the Model Code of Conduct came into effect, barring any new policy decisions.
In July, the MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had issued an order implementing the quota, according to The News Minute.
On Monday, a two-judge bench of Justices M Duraiswamy and K Murali Shankar of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court set aside the law while hearing a batch of petitions against it.
The petitions argued that the law had been passed with a political motive. They also contended that the quota was disproportionate to the Vanniyar community’s population and had been decided upon without conducting a caste census in Tamil Nadu.
The state government had filed a counter-affidavit against the arguments.
“In a democratic polity, an elected government cannot be barred from exercise of its power to make a policy to legislate any law during its tenure/until the last minute it holds power to meet the public opinion at large,” the government had said in response to the contention that the law was politically motivated.
The government had also said that the 10.5% quota was based on the door-to-door enumeration conducted in 1983 by the second Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Commission, The Hindu reported.
The commission’s data showed that that Vanniyars accounted for 65.04 lakh (13.01%) of the state’s population of 4.99 crore in 1983. The government argued that 10.5% reservation for 13.01% of the population was not disproportionate.