The court was listening to a batch of petitions challenging the internal reservation and adjourned hearing for a day, to give the state government time to oppose the interim relief.

news Court Wednesday, August 25, 2021 - 10:23

The Madras High Court on August 24, Tuesday asked the Tamil Nadu government why it should not pass an interim order on a batch of petitions challenging the 10.5% internal reservation for Vanniyars within the 20% allocated to Most Backward Caste (MBCs) in the state roster. The counsel for the state government, P Muthukumar, requested the court to grant a short adjournment so that Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram can oppose the interim relief plea. The bench comprising Justice MM Sundresh and Justice S Kannammal agreed to a day’s adjournment and is likely to pass an interim order after hearing the state.

On July 26, Chief Minister MK Stalin passed a government order stating that a 10.5% internal reservation will be ensured in both public and private education and in appointment to state government jobs for the ‘Vanniyakula Kshatriya’ caste cluster. The “Vaniyakula Kshatriya” caste cluster comprises seven caste groups including Vanniyars, Gounders and Padayachi amongst others.

Additionally, the order declared that this internal reservation will be retrospectively brought into effect from February 26, 2021 — the date the Special Reservation Act of 2021 was passed in the Legislative Assembly. The Bill had been introduced by the previous AIADMK-led government, passed in the Assembly and received the Governor’s assent on the same day.

The Act had met with repeated resistance and had also been challenged both in the Madras High Court and at the Supreme Court. The timing of the Bill had also been questioned by many as it was passed minutes before the Election Commission was set to announce the dates for the 2021 Legislative Assembly elections in several states including Tamil Nadu.

It has also been pointed out the Act was passed without complete data from a state-wide caste census despite the fact the previous AIADMK government had set up a commission in December 2020 specifically to collect this information. Further, many have protested the internal reservation, drawing attention to the considerable political, economic and social dominance of the Vanniyar community, particularly in northern Tamil Nadu.

On Tuesday, Advocate KM Vijayan, who was appearing for one of the petitioners, urged the court to restrain the state from implementing the internal reservation in education and employment. He also argued that the cases should not be kept pending without any interim relief.

Justice Sundresh said that the court could pass an interim order that the implementation of the new law would be subject to the outcome of the writ petitions pending before the court. Muthukumar intervened then to obtain time for the appearance of the advocate general.

The state government is in full support of the act, reportedly saying it is a “myth” to claim that the internal reservation to Vanniyars had affected other communities falling under the MBC category.

(With inputs from IANS)

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