High Court strikes down Haryana law on 75% job reservation for locals in private sector
18 Nov 2023
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday quashed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, that provided for 75 per cent reservation of jobs in private sector to persons domiciled in Haryana.
A division bench comprising Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Harpreet Kaur Jeewan has concluded that the law enacted by the state government in 2021 is unconstitutional and violative of Part III (fundamental rights) of the Constitution.
The high court order comes on a batch of petitions filed by the Faridabad Industries Association challenging the law.
The court said the state legislatures cannot decide on matters of national interest and that laws passed by states should not encroach upon the power of the union government.
Besides, the court said, states cannot force private employers to employ a certain candidate as it could lead to further such enactments by state governments across the country.
The private employer cannot be restricted from appointing candidates from the open market for the category of jobs offering less than Rs30,000 per month, it ruled.
"The State cannot direct the private employers to do what has been forbidden to do under the Constitution of India. It cannot as such discriminate against the individuals on account of the fact that they do not belong to a certain State and have a negative discrimination against other citizens of the country," the court noted.
It also noted that reservation of jobs to local candidates would also amount to discrimination against citizens relating to employment on the basis of their places of birth and residence, which is against the Constitution.
Further, the court observed that the state's reservation law is "a manifestation of the discriminatory policy that you are not one of us and, therefore, not eligible for employment."
"The underlying object of the legislation, as has been succinctly put by counsel for the petitioners, is to create an artificial gap and a discrimination qua the citizens of India," the court said.
The attitude towards individuals and the issues have to be read by the text and spirit of the Constitution and not keeping in mind the popular notions of society, the court observed.
The provisions of the state law falls foul of Article 19 of the Constitution and are liable to be declared unconstitutional "as a wall could not be built around by the State and the spirit and sole of the oneness of the Constitution of India could not be curtailed by the parochial limited vision of the state," the court said.
"The loss of authority by the Constitutional Court itself would imperil democracy," the bench said. The constitutional culture has time and again held as a check against the tyranny of the majority, it added.
The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 was piloted by Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala and passed in 2021.
It provided for 75 per cent reservation of jobs in the private sector, with a monthly salary of less than Rs30,000, for local candidates, effective 15 January 2022. The act was later amended to dereserve short-term work and various primary services from its provisions.