This job quota doesn’t work
Haryana must not pursue reservations for local residents in the private sector. The legislation is bad in law and business-unfriendly
The Punjab and Haryana high court has done well to quash a Haryana law that reserved up to 75% of private jobs, paying up to ₹30,000 a month, for local residents. However, Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Singh Chautala has said the government will move the Supreme Court after studying the judgment. The government shouldn’t challenge the order. The populist act to introduce reservation for locals in the private sector was bad in law and unfriendly to industry and business.
The two-judge bench that ruled the law unconstitutional said the State cannot discriminate against individuals on account of their domicile status. The Indian Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to livelihood irrespective of their places of birth and residence. It is the responsibility of the State to safeguard this right. The Court rightly stated that “The concept of constitutional morality has been openly violated by introducing a secondary status to a set of citizens not belonging to the state of Haryana and curtailing their fundamental rights to earn their livelihood.” Haryana, of course, is not the first state to adopt a nativist stance to address the unemployment crisis. States such as Maharashtra (up to 80% reservation), Karnataka (75%), Andhra Pradesh (75%) and Madhya Pradesh (70%) have similar laws for local residents and most of these have been challenged in courts. Labour migrates as per demand and wages and industry seeks to hire the best talent irrespective of their domicile status. Migrant labour has contributed to building and sustaining the economies of industrialised states such as Haryana, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. In fact, that is how successful economies manage the world over.
Haryana’s immediate concern – assembly elections are less than a year away – is high unemployment. It has the fourth highest rate of unemployment (9% as per Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2021-22) in the country. It is higher than the national average (4.1%) and that of its neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. The domicile reservation law was a poll promise of the BJP-Jannayak Janta Party: In a state with close to five lakh registered job seekers (the state directorate of employment) it had a big appeal. The government should look at other avenues to provide them employment other than promise quotas – which, by driving away industry, may only shrink job opportunities in Haryana.