Admissions, appointments made applying 10.5% Vanniyar reservation will be subject to final outcome of challenge: Madras High Court

The interim order was passed by a Bench of Justices MM Sundresh and S Kanammal in a batch of writ petitions challenging the validity of the 2021 Act which extended such reservation earlier this year.
Madras High Court, Principal Bench
Madras High Court, Principal Bench

The Madras High Court on Wednesday clarified that any educational admissions or appointments to public posts made by applying the 10.5 percent reservation extended by the State to Vaniyakula Kshatriyas/ Vanniyar community would be subject to the final outcome of the writ petitions challenging the validity of such reservation (VV Saminathan v. Government of Tamil Nadu and ors).

The interim order was passed by a Bench of Justices MM Sundresh and S Kanammal in a batch of writ petitions challenging the validity of the Vanniyar Reservation Act of 2021 which extended such reservation earlier this year.

While various counsel appearing for the petitioners today urged the Court for an interim stay in the matter, at least with respect to educational admissions, the Court did not order for the same. Instead, it confined to clarifying that admissions and appointments would be subject to the final decision of the Court in the matter.

"Upon hearing the petitoners, we are of the view that it would only be approppriate to adjudicate the matter one way another finally ... Having said that, the parties concerned who are already the beneficiaries of the enactment and likely to be beneficiaries will have to be informed sufficiently on the pendency of the writ petitioners. While observing so, we clarify that it is ultimately for the Court to decide the appropriate relief based on the final decision on the validity of the enactment by issuing appropriate directions ... We do feel that it will only serve the interests of one and all if it is made clear that any admissions made likely to be made, or appointments made or likely to be made in pursuant to the impugned enactment, will be subject to the result of the final order to be passed. We have already clarified that this interim order will always be subject to final order", stated the interim order passed today.

The case was also fixed for hearing on an early date, so that the issues involved can be resolved one way or another. The Court has also posted the matter for final hearing from September 14.

The directions issued in today's interim order include:

  1. Admissions made or to be made in tune with the Act under challenge would be subject to the result of the final order to be passed.

  2. It would be open to the Court to pass appropriate orders on the admissions made in the interregnum and also the appointments as this order is only by an interim arrangement.

  3. It would be open to the persons who either obtained admissions or are appointed, being beneficiaries of the impugned enactment, to file applications to implead in the case.

  4. The implement petitions already filed are allowed.

  5. Taking into consideration the issues involved, the registry is directed to post the matter for final hearing on September 14.

The counsel who argued today on behalf of various petitioners included Senior Counsel G Masilamani, KM Vijayan, G Rajagopalan and advocate V Raghavachari. Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram appeared for the State.

The AG informed the Court that there are similar petitions pending before the Supreme Court in which notice was ordered earlier. It was also pointed out that the petitioners had not been granted a stay either by the Supreme Court nor by the First Bench of the High Court (before a Judge on the First Bench recused from hearing the matter). He also emphasised that there is a presumption in favour of the challenged law's validity and that no interim stay should be passed unless there is a prima facie case made out.

The AG added that the State is ready to argue the matter finally so the issue may be decided one way or another. In the meanwhile, he urged that the Court not pass any interim order to stay the operation of the reservation.

On the side of the petitioners, it was contended that the High Court is not denuded of granting interim orders in the matter merely because there are similar petitions pending in the Supreme Court. It was pointed out that the Supreme Court had taken up this issue in March, when the urgency was not as much as it presently is in August. Further, the top Court had also granted the petitioners liberty to press their case before the High Court and seek appropriate relief, it was submitted. The petitioners have also challenged the legal competency of the State to introduce the challenged Vanniyar reservation law.

The law was introduced during the rule of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) earlier this year. It was passed in the legislative assembly in February this year.

After the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party was elected to form the next government following the Assembly elections last April, a Government Order (GO) was also passed in July by the Chief Minister MK Stalin-led DMK regime to implement the Vanniyar reservation retrospectively from February 26. 2021.

Shortly after the GO was passed, the petitioners had urgently mentioned the matter before a Madras High Court Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy calling for a stay.

However, the Court had rejected that request after hearing Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram's submissions.

The matter was posted before Justices Sundresh and Kanammal after Justice PD Audikesavalu, who presently sits with Chief Justice Banerjee at the Principal seat, recused from hearing the case on August 10.

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