Haryana’s employment reservation law
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, on November 17, declared the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, unconstitutional. This Act, enacted in 2021, aimed to secure 75% reservation for locals in private sector jobs in Haryana.
GS-02 (Government policies and interventions, Judiciary, Fundamental Rights)
Analyze the constitutional implications and the broader impact of the decision to quash the State Employment laws that provides reservations for locals, with a focus on the right to livelihood and the concept of common citizenship. (250 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020
- Violation of Fundamental Rights
- National Perspective
- Judicial Intervention
Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020:
- In November 2020, the Haryana government introduced a law requiring 75% of jobs with a monthly salary below ₹30,000 to be reserved for local residents.
- The legislation, applicable to various private entities- including companies, societies, trusts, partnership firms and large individual employers faced challenges, asserting its infringement on constitutional rights.
- The Law however, required employers to register their employees on a government portal and to obtain a certificate of domicile for the local candidates. And this “LOCAL CANDIDATE” could avail the registration by registering on a designated online portal.
Violation of Fundamental Rights:
- The legal challenge contended that the reservation law contravened constitutional guarantees, including Article 19 (right to freedom, including residence and profession) and Article 14 (equality before the law).
- The court, in its ruling, examined the implications on the fundamental rights of citizens and the potential discordance with the foundational principles of the Constitution.
- State’s Defense and Legal Arguments:
- The Haryana government defended the law, emphasizing its intent to safeguard the livelihoods of state residents amid rising unemployment.
- The constitutional provision under Article 16(4), allowing reservations for backward classes, was cited to support the enactment.
- The legal battle unfolded with arguments revolving around the balance between protecting local employment opportunities and ensuring adherence to constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination.
- Several states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, have implemented laws providing reservations for local residents in the private sector.
- Exploring the national landscape provides insights into the diversity of approaches and the potential legal challenges associated with such legislations.
- The court’s interim order and directives to the Haryana government, coupled with the reasons behind its decisions, offer insights into the legal complexities surrounding the reservation law.
- The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision to declare the law unconstitutional hinged on specific constitutional inconsistencies.
- Article 19(1)(g), addressing the right to carry on occupation, trade, or business was voilated as the law imposed unreasonable restrictions on the employers to hire local candidates.
- Additionally, scrutiny of Sections 6 and 8 of the Act unveils concerns related to excessive state control over private employers as it required a mandatory quarterly reports on local candidates and enabling authorized officers to demand verification.
- There has to be a balance between addressing the rising unemployment situation alongside upholding constitutional principles.
- The tension between the economic imperative of safeguarding local employment and ensuring a level playing field for all citizens necessitates nuanced policy considerations. \
- Crafting laws that foster inclusive economic growth while avoiding infringements on fundamental rights emerges as a key takeaway.
- The broader theme of common citizenship, as envisioned in the Constitution, resonates the need to avoid erecting artificial barriers that divide citizens based on their domicile is emphasized.
- Upholding the spirit of unity in diversity becomes a guiding principle, urging a reevaluation of legislative measures that may inadvertently sow seeds of discord among citizens.