Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Domicile based job quota laws in States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Quota for Locals

The Karnataka government recently tabled The Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill which gives preference to Kannadigas in government jobs and also provides for a reservation to locals in private jobs generated in the state.

What does the Karnataka legislation envisage?

  • Apart from ensuring job guarantee to Kannada speakers, the Bill pushes for the use of Kannada in institutes of higher learning and for sops to industries that employ locals.
  • Features highlighted in the Bill include reservation in higher, technical and professional education to those who studied in Kannada medium schools.
  • It seeks introduction of Kannada as essential language for seeking employment in the state government.
  • Also, industries will be entitled to concessions, tax rebates and deferment of taxes if they provide reservation for Kannadigas, as per the state’s industrial policy.

What is Quota for Locals?

Ans. Constitutional provision for Equal Treatment

  • Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law in matters of public employment. It prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State”.
  • The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state.
  • This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.
  • India has single citizenship, and it gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country.
  • Hence the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualification for granting public employment in any state.

But are reservations not granted on other grounds such as caste?

  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law:
  1. Non-discrimination among equals, and
  2. Affirmative action to equalize the unequal

Supreme Court rulings on quota for locals

  • The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.
  • In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed.
  • The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in 1984 ruling to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad HC struck down a recruitment notification by the UP PSC which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

Why it is a bad idea?

  • Against Equality as well as meritocracy: It goes against the Constitution of India. In fact, it violates several fundamental rights, such as freedom to move anywhere, the right not to be discriminated on the basis of place of birth, the right to be treated equally before laws and the right to pursue one’s livelihood.
  • Migration criteria not justified: The actual data on inter-State migration shows that inter-State migration is relatively low in India. Migration often bring skills, motivation, energy which may be in short supply or lacking locally.
  • Free movement of labour: A more analytical aspect to highlight is that free movement of labour partly compensates for the uneven economic progress of different States. The idea also goes against the established fact that migration of labour is good for the economy.
  • Un-ease of doing business: Local reservation in the private sector may not be the ideal solution to tackle the unemployment crisis. In fact, it can deter the corporate sector from investing in states that come up with such a rule.
  • Scapegoating the private sector: What distinguishes the private sector from the public sector is the inherent competition and a hunger for improvement. In such a scenario, chief ministers should do well to engage with the private sector in a much more holistic manner, and not burden it with unfeasible rules.
  • MSMEs to be hit harder: MSMEs could be the hardest hit. They do not have the necessary capital to relocate and many studies have shown that more than 50 per cent of employees are not residents of the state.

Arguments in favour of quota in private

  • Avoiding encroachments: Often the privileged castes (or groups) use nefarious arguments to protect their interests.
  • Foul argument of merit: Reservations once accepted in the constitutional framework are not a charity that is to be kept away from the ‘meritocracy’ of ‘private’ operations.
  • Ensuring equal opportunity: Like all other constitutional guarantees, one may feel the necessity to get ensured of equal opportunity in all spaces.
  • Preventing exclusion: Giving preference and quotas for socially and educationally deprived sections in the private space is, therefore, in keeping with this fundamental tenet.

Conclusion

  • The politics of identity and polarization on region/religious lines seems inadequate for the elections.
  • The philosophy and pragmatism of universal excellence through equality of opportunity for education and advancement across the nation is part of our founding faith and constitutional creed.
  • Clearly, this is not the appropriate domain of being “vocal for local”.
  • Although some reservations may still be necessary for the socio-political condition in India, reservation on the basis of domicile or residence within a State would be highly discriminatory.
  • It is more likely that such politically motivated steps would be overturned by the judiciary as has been done several times in the past.

 

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