In a landmark decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday declared the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, "unconstitutional and violative of Part III (fundamental rights) of the Constitution of India" [Faridabad Industries Association V/S State Of Haryana And Another]. The Act, championed by Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, aimed to provide 75 percent reservation in private sector jobs to persons domiciled in Haryana.
A division bench, led by Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Harpreet Kaur Jeewan, emphasized that state powers cannot encroach upon national interest or undermine the Union government. The court held that the state cannot compel private employers to hire locally, as it could lead to a proliferation of such state enactments creating "artificial walls" across the nation.
"The State cannot direct the private employers to do what has been forbidden to do under the Constitution of India," stated the court, underscoring that discrimination based on state origin violates constitutional principles. It criticized the legislation as a "discriminatory policy" creating an "artificial gap" among citizens.
The court invoked constitutional morality, stating, "The loss of authority by the Constitutional Court itself would imperil democracy." It deemed the Act unreasonable, imposing restrictions on the right to move freely within India, and declared it in violation of fundamental rights.
The decision comes after the High Court had earlier stayed the law in 2022, a decision later set aside by the Supreme Court with a directive against coercive measures. The Act, effective from January 15, 2022, faced criticism for its potential to hinder the freedom of employment and create disparities among citizens.
This ruling reaffirms the supremacy of constitutional principles, emphasizing that legislation must align with the spirit of unity and non-discrimination laid out in the Constitution of India.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News writer, MIT ADT University