Supreme Court protects Tamil Nadu quota law

New Delhi, July 13 (Calcutta Tube) The Supreme Court Tuesday granted protection to Tamil Nadu’s quota law which provides 69 percent reservation in educational institutions and jobs to scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes, but advised the state government to revisit the issue.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishna Rao and Swatanter Kumar directed the state backward classes commission to revisit the reservation issue in the light of the Mandal case judgement dealing with quotas.

The commission while re-visiting the issue and re-fixing the quota shall take into consideration the exceptions carved out in the Mandal case judgment saying that the cap of 50 percent could be exceeded only in exceptional and compelling circumstances.

Tamil Nadu was asked to submit quantifiable data in support of reservation exceeding 50 percent for scheduled castes/scheduled tribes and other backward classes.

The VOICE Consumer Care Council had challenged the validity of the reservation law enacted in 1994 and its subsequent introduction in the Ninth Schedule of the constitution. It argued that total reservation could not exceed 50 percent – a cap put by the apex court in the Mandal case verdict.

On May 13, 2008, the court directed the state government to increase number of seats in the engineering, medical and other professional courses so that general category students did not suffer due to the 69 percent reservation.

The state government justified the 69 percent reservation on the grounds that the scheduled castes/scheduled tribes and other backward classes constituted 88 percent of the state’s total population.

It said these categories deserved higher percentage of reservation beyond the cap of 50 percent imposed by the apex court in the Mandal case judgment. The state government’s stand was based on 1991 census.

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