The controversial Haryana law mandating 75% reservation for residents of the state in private-sector jobs has been struck down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has termed it unconstitutional.
The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, which underwent several changes after it was passed in 2020, provided for 75% of private-sector jobs with a monthly salary or wages of less than ₹ 30,000 being reserved for people with a resident or domicile certificate. The domicile requirement had been brought down from 15 years to five.
With less than a year to go for the Assembly elections in Haryana, the decision is being seen as a big setback for the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, which had brought in the law with an eye on consolidating the votes of local communities, especially the Jat community. The state is likely to appeal against the judgment.
The Act, which was passed by the Haryana Assembly in November 2020 and had received the governor’s assent in March 2021, was seen as the brainchild of the Jannayak Janata Party, which is an ally of the BJP in the state, and whose leader, Dushyant Chautala, serves as the deputy chief minister. Providing the reservation was one of the key promises made by Mr Chautala ahead of the 2019 Assembly elections.
While introducing the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill in 2020, the state government had said that the “influx of migrants competing for low-paid jobs places a significant impact on local infrastructure and housing, and leads to proliferation of slums”.
Justifying bringing in the bill, it had said that giving preference to local candidates in low-paid jobs was “socially, economically and environmentally desirable” and “in the interests of the general public”.
The petition against the law was filed in the high court by the Gurugram Industrial Association and other employer bodies. The petitioners had argued that the sons-of-the-soil concept behind the law was an infringement of the constitutional rights of employers. They had also said that the Act was against the principles of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution.
Another concern was the impact the Act would have on the development of industry in Gurugram, which is one of the biggest Information Technology hubs in India.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the Act in February 2022 but the order had been set aside by the Supreme Court days later following an appeal by the Haryana government. The Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide on the petitions expeditiously.
Post a comment“We are of the considered opinion that the restrictions imposed in the Statute as such have far reaching effect and cannot be held to be reasonable in any manner which would warrant no interference… The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 is held to be unconstitutional and violative of Part III of the Constitution of India and is accordingly held ultravires the same and is ineffective from the date it came into force,” the bench ruled.