Be vocal against parochial in India

Last week, Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, which mandated 75% reservation for ‘locals’ with a monthly salary of less than ₹30,000 in private sector jobs. This is a welcome move, and serves as a signal for all states that could be considering playing such a cynical and self-throttling political card. The court ruling was on expected lines, since the Haryana law flouts constitutional provisions and goes against evidence that shows migration has solid economic benefits for both migrants-hosting states as well as migrants themselves.

According to the 2011 census, about 210 million people migrated in the preceding decade within India. Under the Haryana law, ‘locals’ are defined as permanent residents or living in the state for at least 15 years. This automatically bars employment for those residing in other parts of India. The Act undermines constitutionally guaranteed rights and equality of law irrespective of place of birth (Article 14) and free movement of all citizens (Article 19) within India. It contradicts sustained efforts to ease inter-state migration through measures like ‘One Nation, One Ration Card‘, not to mention GST‘s rationale of creating a unified market. The 2014 Charu Khurana vs Union of India case – a trade union debarred a worker as she had not lived in Maharashtra for at least five years – established that the domicile card cannot be used to bar employment.

The free movement of people allows businesses to hire the best and most competitive talent. Shutting the door to ‘outside’ talent could force companies to move out. The law was never in Haryana’s interest. Instead of approaching the Supreme Court, the state government should junk the law.


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