Pattali Makkal Katchi v A Mayilerumperumal – CA 2600 of 2022 | 31 March 2022
MADRAS HIGH COURT: Apex court upheld that the Madras High Court judgment striking down the law which was put forward in Tamil Nadu last year by providing 10.5% reservation to Vanniyars, the most backward classes community, in the government jobs and in admissions of educational institutions. Apex court opined that it was done solely on the basis of numbers without adequate data to show the relative backwardness of the Vanniyar community.
The division bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice B R Gavai, dismissed the argument that the constitution 105th amendment act is only clarifying and should be applied retroactively from the day the 102nd amendment act took effect.
The issue before the Madras High Court was whether the State Legislature has competency and authority to make the impunged Act after 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 and before the 105th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2021?
102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018: prohibits the state from identifying a caste as SEBC [Socially and Economically Backward Class] or from including or excluding a community from the President’s list of most Backward Classes. Determining the extent of reservation for a community among the list of Most Backward Classes is not the same as identification.
105th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2021: is not validating amendment act is not validating amendment in anyway, it is prospective is in use. It is not possible to say that identifying particular communities as SEBCs for the purposes of the Central Government and the states is as question of process. The substantive part of the 102nd Amendment Act and the 105th Amendment Act is recognising and recognising specific groups as SEBCs, whereas the procedural side of the changes is the manner in which the lists of SEBCs are published.
The court held that when the Tamil Nadu special reservation of seats in educational institutions, including private educational institutions, and of appointments or posts in state services within the reservation for the Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Act, 2021 was enacted, the 102nd Amendment Act held in this field.
The supreme court concluded that the constitution 105th Amendment Act is prospective in character, holding that the Tamil Nadu statute providing internal reservation of 10.5% to the Vanniyar Community under the category Most Backward Classes is unconstitutional.
The bench used Indra Sawhney case as precedent and stated, “caste can be the starting point but not sole basis. Similarly, caste can be the starting point for providing internal reservation but it is incumbent on the state government to justify the reasonableness of the decision and to demonstrate the caste is not the sole basis”.
The court further held that 102nd Amendment only prohibits the state from undertaking is identifying a caste as SEBC or including or excluding a community from the list notified by the President, said that “We are not in agreement with the contention of the respondents that determining the extent of reservation for a community amongst the list of Most Backward Classes amounts to identification. In view thereof, the High Court has committed an error in holding that the 2021 Act is violative of Article 342-A”.
The Madras HC had ruled that the law brought in by the then AIADMK government shortly before the elections was without quantifiable data on the socio-educational status of the Vanniyars. The state government made a mistake by accepting the chairman of Tamil Nadu backward classes commissions recommendations, which were based on the Janarthanam Commission report which is outdated one.