From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article16
Mains level : Quota debate
The Haryana government has notified a new law that requires 75% of private-sector jobs in the state, up to a specified salary slab, reserved for a local candidate.
Haryana’s move has renewed the debate on whether the government force should private companies to adopt its reservation policy in jobs. While constitutional guarantees for reservation have been limited to public employment, attempts to extend it to private sector are not new either.
Haryana Quota Rule
- The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 requires private companies to set aside for domiciles 75% of jobs up to a monthly salary of Rs 50,000 or as may be notified by the government.
- The law is applicable to all companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person employing 10 or more persons.
Other states with such laws
- In July 2019, the Andhra Pradesh government had passed a similar law, which was challenged in court.
- The Andhra Pradesh High Court had made a prima facie observation that the move might be unconstitutional, but the challenge is yet to be heard on merits.
What are the legal issues in such laws?
Two big legal questions come up.
(1) Question of domicile reservation
- While domicile quotas in education are fairly common, courts have been reluctant in expanding this to public employment.
- Last year, the MP government decided to reserve all government jobs for “children of the state”, raising questions relating to the fundamental right to equality of citizens.
(2) Right to Equality
- The second question, which is more contentious, is the issue of forcing the private sector to comply with reservations in employment.
- For mandating reservation in public employment, the state draws its power from Article 16(4) of the Constitution.
- It says that the right to equality in public employment does not prevent the state from “making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
- The Constitution has no manifest provision for private employment from which the state draws the power to make laws mandating reservation.
Rationale in bringing such laws
Providing reservation in public employment is one of the many ways through which the state endeavours to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens.
- With public sector jobs constituting only a minuscule proportion of all jobs, legislators have talked about extending the legal protections to the private sector.
- They aim to really achieve the constitutional mandate of equality for all citizens.
- One argument often made in favour of reservation for private jobs is that private industries use public infrastructure in many ways.
- A similar argument was made in requiring private schools to comply with the Right to Education Act, which the Supreme Court also upheld.
- Affirmative action is adopted in many countries in the context of race and gender.
- In the US, there is no statutory requirement for employers to have quotas.
- Courts can order monetary damages and injunctive relief, including “such affirmative action as may be appropriate”, for victims of discrimination.
- The Employment Equity Act in Canada also protects minority groups, especially aboriginals from discrimination in federally regulated industries, even in the private sector.