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'Reservation Based On Caste Alone': Madras High Court Quashes 10.5% Internal Reservation To Vanniyar Community Under Most Backward Class Category

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
1 Nov 2021 2:17 PM GMT
Reservation Based On Caste Alone:  Madras High Court Quashes 10.5% Internal Reservation To Vanniyar Community Under Most Backward Class Category
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The Madras High Court quashed the Tamil Nadu law providing internal reservation of 10.5 % to the Vanniyar Community under the category Most Backward Classes.The court observed that Tamil Nadu Special Reservation of seats in educational Institutions including Private Educational Institutions and appointments or posts in the services under the State within the Reservation for the Most...

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The Madras High Court quashed the Tamil Nadu law providing internal reservation of 10.5 % to the Vanniyar Community under the category Most Backward Classes.

The court observed that Tamil Nadu Special Reservation of seats in educational Institutions including Private Educational Institutions and appointments or posts in the services under the State within the Reservation for the Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Act, 2021, is ultra vires the constitution.

The bench comprising Justices M. Duraiswamy and K. Murali Shankar also said that caste alone cannot be a criteria to make reservation. It was also held that, in view of Article 31B and 102nd Constitutional amendment, the state legislature lacked competence to make such a law. The court observed that the Act had been passed by the State without any quantifiable data on population, socio educational status and representation of the backward classes in the services. The sub-classification done 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, the bench added.

The court considered the following issues raised in the batch of writ petitions

(i) Whether the State Legislature has competency to make the impugned Act after 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 and before 105th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2021?

(ii) Whether an Act placed under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of India can be varied without amending the said Act?

(iii) Whether the State Government had the power to take any decision with regard to Backward Classes in the teeth of the Constitutional provisions, more particularly, Article 338-B of the Constitution of India?

(iv) Whether the State has power to provide reservation based on caste?

(v) Whether reservation can be provided without any quantifiable data on population, socio educational status and representation of the backward classes in the services?

(vi) Whether the impugned Act providing reservation of 10.5% to MBC(V), without any quantifiable data, is in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India?

(vii) Whether the sub-classification of MBC into three categories can be done solely based on adequate population data, in the absence of any objective criteria?

The following are some of the significant observations made in the judgment which runs to 184 pages:

Lack of Competency of State Legislature

The petitioners had relied on Maratha Quota judgment to contend that after 102nd Constitutional Amendment, the powers of the State Legislative Assembly to include and exclude Backward Class has been ousted and bestowed with Parliament of India under Article 342-A of the Constitution of India. The Government relied on the Constitution (105th Amendment) Act, 2021. It contended that the said amendment nullified the effect of Maratha quota judgment and restored the power of the States to identify and notify Backward Classes and thus, the power of the State for identification and notification of the Backward Classes stated to be lost by virtue of the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018, has been restored through the above said 105th Amendment to the Constitution. In this regard, the court observed:

We are of the opinion that the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018, came into existence on 11.08.2018 and the Constitution (105th Amendment) Act, 2021, was enacted on 19.08.2021 and whereas the impugned Act 8 of 2021 came to be enacted on 26.02.2021 and therefore, we hold that as on the date of enactment of the impugned Act, the State Legislature has no power to enact such legislation and accordingly, the State Legislature has no competency to pass the impugned Act.

The court accepted the contentions of the petitioners that in view of Article 31-B of the Constitution of India, the State Legislature has no power to enact the impugned Act without amending the Tamil Nadu Act 45 of 1994, which has been given Presidential Assent and placed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of India and the enactment of the impugned Act is in violation of the Constitution of India. In this regard, the court observed:

Article 31-B of the Constitution of India mandates that until the Act placed in Ninth Schedule is amended or repealed by the competent Legislature, the said Act shall continue to be in force. Since the Act 45 of 1994 providing undivided 20% reservation for MBC is in force, without amending the same, the impugned Act providing internal reservation to MBC(V) is against the Constitutional provisions. There are 25 Acts of Tamil Nadu found place in the Ninth Schedule appended to the Constitution of India and 22 Acts are amending the Land Reform Acts. Every time, the Act in the Ninth Schedule was amended and the Amendment Acts have also been placed in the Ninth Schedule through Constitutional Amendment Acts under Article 368 of the Constitution of India.

Reservation based on Caste alone

The impugned legislation has been enacted in violation of Articles 15, 16 and 29 of the Constitution of India as the same discriminates only on caste and it also provides caste based reservation by treating one caste, viz., "Vanniakula Kshatriya" including 'Vanniyar', 'Vanniya', 'Vannia Gounder', 'Gounder' or 'Kander', 'Padayachi', 'Palli' and 'Agnikula Kshatriya', as separate class while treating the similar castes differently. By doing so, the respondents have shown discrimination between one caste having  sub-castes and 115 other castes, as the impugned Act tried to give higher proportion of reservation to one caste and deprive the others. Vanniyar caste who are issued with single caste certificate in the lists of MBCs is treated as separate class, when the name of the caste in every other respect, the Vanniyar caste, is similar to other castes in the MBCs.
None of the remaining 115 Communities was given separate reservation, as it has been done in the case of Vanniyar caste. It is also pertinent to note that no caste basis reservation has been given in respect of any of the communities enlisted under the Notification. Articles 15(4), 16(4) and Article 14 of the Constitution of India, prohibit reservation on caste basis. Reservation can only be on the basis of the community and not on the basis of the caste
caste alone cannot be the basis for any classification and the Honourable Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney judgment makes it very clear that caste alone cannot be a criteria to make reservation, because Articles 16(1), 16(2) and 16(4) are facet of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and when there is a specific bar to discriminate on caste under Article 16(2), the same cannot be done under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India being same facet.

No quantifiable data

As per Section 7 of the Act 45 of 1994, the State Government can notify, classify or sub-classify the Backward Classes of the citizens only based on the report by the Commission. In the case on hand, no such Commission Report was received by the State Government, except a letter in the form of remarks, dated 23.02.2021 from the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Commission.
There is no data much less quantifiable data available with the State Government before the introduction of the impugned Act, to show the three different degree of backwardness to make three sub-categories as mandated by Indra Sawhney case (supra) nor there is a data to show the inadequate representation of a group
Case name: V.V.Saminathan vs Government of Tamil Nadu

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