What's New :

SC repeals ‘Vanniyar Quota Act’

Published: 9th Apr, 2022


The Supreme Court has recently repealed the Tamil Nadu special reservation Act of 2021, also known as the ‘Vanniyar quota Act’.

  • This judgement has led the Government to overview the present quota system followed by the States and its related validity.

    What is Reservation?

    • Reservationis a system of affirmative action in India that provides historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment and politics.
    • Based on provisions in the Indian Constitution, it allows the Union Government and also the States and Territories of India to set reserved quotas or seats, which lower the qualifications needed in exams, job openings and etc. for "socially and educationally backward citizens”.
    • Reservation is primarily given to all 4 groups: Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Economically Weaker Section, abbreviated as SC, ST, OBC, EWS respectively


    Historical background

    • Before Independence: the quota system in India has started during the British India.
    • Rajarshi shahu, maharaja of princely state of Kolhapur, introduced the reservation in favour of non-Bramhins and backward classes in 1902.
    • In 1918, raja nalvardi krishnaraja wadiyar created committee to implement reservations for non-Bramhins in government jobs and education.
    • In Government of India Act of 1909, element of reservation has been introduced by British government.
    • By communal Award, separate representation was to be provided for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christains, Anglo Indians and Europeans.
    • This was forced by Poona pact in 1932.
    • After Independence: After the independence of India in 1947 there were some major initiatives in favour of the STs, SCs and after the 1980s in favour of OBCs (Other Backward Castes) and in 2019 for poor in the general category. The country's affirmative action program was launched in 1950 as one of the oldest such programme in the world.
    • In 1954, the Ministry of Education suggested that 20 percent of places should be reserved for the SCs and STs in educational institutions with a provision to relax minimum qualifying marks for admission by 5 percent wherever required.
    • A significant change began in 1979 when the Mandal Commissionor the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Commission was established to assess the situation of the socially and educationally backward classes.
    • In 2019 the government announces the 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for economically weaker section of the general category.

    Mandal commission on backward classes

    • Mandal Commission was set up in 1979 January by Morarji Desai government to identify the socially or educationally backward classes to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness.
    • It was chaired by B. P. Mandal. The commission submitted the report to the president on December 30, 1980. It recommended 27% reservation quota for OBC resulting in total 49.5% quota in government jobs and public universities.
    • The commission did not have exact population figures for the OBCs and so used data from the 1931 census, thus estimating the group's population at 52 percent.

    Constitutional provisions for reservation

    • Article 15(4): Nothing in clause (2) of the Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially, and educationally backward classes of citizens of or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
    • Article 46 of the Constitution states that "The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
    • The Supreme Court of India ruled in 1992 that reservations could not exceed 50 % anything above which it judged would violate equal access as guaranteed by the Constitution. It thus put a cap on reservations.

    Reservation schemes in India and related concerns

    • In Employment: Government and public sector will hire job seekers based on reservation percentage from two different categories (a)reservation category (SC, ST, OBC, EWC and other minorities) (b) Open category (General, SC, ST, OBC, EWC and other minorities).
    • Major priority is given to reservation category including 33% reservation for women priority in hiring is given by Other Minorities women, ST women, SC women, ST Men, SC Men, OBC women, OBC Men, EWC Women, EWC Men and then after Open category Will be considered.
    • In 1993, the Supreme Court ruling the Indra sawhey case, said that reservations in job promotions are "unconstitutional" and not in accordance with the political constitution but allowed its continuation for five years.
    • Haryana state employment of local candidate bill, 2020- The Act provides private sector employers to reserve 75% of job posts for candidates who are domiciled in the state of Haryana. The other states i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana, have recently implemented reservations for the local candidate’s employment in the public as well as the private sector.
    • In education: In India student aids are available for—SCs, STs, BCs, OBCs, women, Muslims, and other minorities. Only about 7% of student aids in India is based on merit, given the grossly inadequate representation of above-mentioned categories in employment and education due to historic, societal and cultural reasons.
    • In Tamil Nadu, OBC reservation is divided into 26.5% Backward Caste, 3.5 Backward Caste and 20% Most Backward Caste and 10.5% sub quota for Vanniyars.
    • The Act had envisaged the distribution of the 20% quota for Most Backward Classes (MBC) and De-notified Communities (DNCs) in education and public employment by assigning 10.5% to Vanniyars or the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community, 7% for 25 MBCs and 68 DNCs, and 2.5% for the remaining 22 MBCs.
    • The Supreme Court has rightly quashed the Tamil Nadu Special Reservation Act of 2021, or the Vanniyar quota law, on the ground that it was not based on updated quantifiable data. 
    • In States: The reservation percentage for states has been raised to 49.5% by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs.
    • Government of Andhra Pradesh introduced a law enabling 4 percent reservations for Muslims in 2004. This law was upheld by the Supreme Court in an interim order in 2010 but it constituted a Constitution bench to look further into the issue.

    Need of the Hour

    • Adequate law for reservation criteria- India needs a comprehensive law for reservation quota allocation for different backward classes.
    • For States- the states must overview their reservation criteria for backwardness and categorization of castes and the provisions should be justifiable in the court of law.
    • The role of Judiciary- the role of Supreme Court and other courts are crucial for scrutinizing the law made regarding the reservation criteria in different states for providing adequate help to the needy (SC, ST, OBC and EWS).
    • Formation of committee at central and state levels- formation of committee will bring transparency and will reduce the judicial burden for checking the reservations system in India.
    • Collection of proper data and Updation- the census based on socio-economic data must be revised regularly for providing help to the real beneficiary.

    Verifying, please be patient.

    Enquire Now