SC rules out immediate hearing on pleas challenging Tamil Nadu’s 69% quota law
- The petitions challenging the Tamil Nadu quota law have been pending in the Supreme Court since 2012.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that petitions challenging the Tamil Nadu quota law made in 1993, which provides 69% reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in educational institutes and government jobs will not be taken up till there is a decision by a Constitution bench on the validity of the Maratha quota law, which will be taken up on March 8.
Ahead of the assembly elections in the state, the petitioners challenging the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993 moved an application to tag their petition with the cases challenging the Maharashtra State Reservation (of Seats for admission and educational institutions in the State and for appointments in the Public Services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018 (in short Maratha quota law).
The Tamil Nadu government opposed this, suggesting that the matter could await an outcome of the decision in the Maratha quota case.
Siding with the view of the state, the bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and RS Reddy said, “We are of the view that these petitions need not be heard along with Civil Appeal No.3123 of 2020 (challenging the validity of Maratha quota law) and be listed after the judgment in Civil Appeal Nos.3123 of 2020.”
The petitions challenging the Tamil Nadu quota law have been pending in the Supreme Court since 2012. The lead petitioner CV Gayathri and others stated that after the enactment of the Constitution 102nd Act, 2018, the Tamil Nadu law had to be tested based on this law. “Issues which have been raised in these writ petitions have bearing on the questions which have been referred to the larger Bench, hence, it is appropriate that these petitions be heard along with the challenge to the Maratha quota law,” said senior advocate Maninder Singh appearing for the petitioner.
This stand was supported by senior advocate Kapil Sibal who submitted that the Tamil Nadu government had appointed a Commission in the year 2020, by which, the exercise of including SCs/STs within the ambit of the 1993 law was continuing. According to him, the issue pertaining to Constitution 102nd Act, 2018 was very much involved in these matters and the same ought to go to the Constitution Bench.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu opposed the contention and submitted that as far as Tamil Nadu Act of 1993 is concerned, the same enjoyed special protection under Article 31B of the Constitution (Ninth Schedule) and the hearing on these writ petitions could await the outcome of the Constitution bench’s decision in Maratha quota case. He also pointed out that the TN quota law was enacted in 1993; whereas the Maharashtra Act, 2018 was enacted after the Constitution 102nd Amendment.
The state pointed out to the Court that the Supreme Court in 1996 had allowed reservations under the 69% law to continue. Subsequently, the state had also produced quantifiable data to justify reservation under the 1993 law. But the petitioners were aggrieved that the reservation in admissions were being carried out without creating additional seats. This was seriously prejudicing open category candidates, the petitioners argued.