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Vanniyar Quota- UPSC Current Affairs

Apr 11, 2022


Read our today's edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box wherein we will talk about Vanniyar Quota in detail. This topic forms an integral part of the UPSC exam preparation.

Its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus:

For Prelims: Vanniyar community in Tamil Nadu, Fundamental Right

For Mains: Issues in Government Policies and Interventions.

Why in the News?

Recently, The Supreme Court of India has struck down the 10.5% reservation provided to the Vanniyar community, a Most Backward Community (MBC) in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Act had envis­aged the distribution of the 20% quota for Most Back­ ward Classes (MBC) and De­notified Communities (DNCs) in education and public employment.
    • The act assigned­ 10.5% to Vanniyars or the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community, 7% for 25 MBCs and 68 DNCs, and 2.5% for the remaining 22 MBCs.

Probable Question

The efficacy of reservation in jobs and higher education has resulted in the socio-economic upliftment of backward classes. Examine 


  • As per the Sattanathan commission of 1970, the population of Vanniyars is higher in the Northern districts of Tamil Nadu.
  • Vanniyars are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in Tamil Nadu.
  • They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
  • Split of OBC quota: In 1989, the OBC quota was split into two, Backward Castes and Most Backward Castes. 
    • Vanniyars were categorised among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
  • Three decades later, the state government approved a Bill, which the current government has enforced with a Government Order, ensuring 10.5 percent reserve for Vanniyars within the MBC quota of 20%. 
  • In November 2021, the Madras high court struck down the law on the grounds that it was passed without any quantifiable data on the socio-educational status of the Vanniyars in government services and there were thus no objective criteria for sub-classifying Vanniyars for purposes of reservations.

Understanding the Act

  • The Tamil Nadu Special Reservation Act was introduced to meet the demand of Vanniyars.
  • Vanniyars caste is classified among the Most Backward Classes (MBC), based on claims that they are a numerically predominant community but were unable to compete with the other communities in the MBCs and Denotified Communities (DNCs).
  • The law provided an internal reservation of 10.5% for the Vanniyar community within the 20% quota for all MBCs and DNCs.

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What was the Supreme Court's decision?

  • SC quashed the act as it is in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution and also on the ground that it was not based on updated quantifiable data.
  • The Court said, caste can be the starting point for the identification of backward classes or providing internal reservation, but it cannot be the sole basis for giving reservation.  Also, there must be pertinent, contemporaneous data. 
  • The aspect of internal reservation for one com­munity (Vanniyars) had created the impression of special treatment. 
  • The Court pointed out that no analysis had been made of the relative backwardness and representation of other communities in the MBCs and DNCs.

Supreme Court Judgment on Reservation

  •  Indira Sawhney and Ors vs Union of India: In this case, the SC has analysed the legality of reservation for OBCs.
  • In doing so the court set certain standards for the government to follow while granting reservations to any category:
    • The reservation kept both under Article 16(1) and 16(4) together should not exceed 50% of the appointments in a grade, cadre or service in any particular year. 
    • And that the same can exceed 50% only if there is an extraordinary need for doing so, which needs to be justified on valid grounds.
    • The government is allowed to make special laws to protect the marginalised classes of society under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the constitution. However, the same needs to be backed by quantifiable data on the socio-educational status of the class or community concerned.

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