Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment

“There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State (Article 16(1); 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, (Article 16(2)); Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment. (Article 16(3)); Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State. (Article 16(4)); Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the service under the State. (Article 16 (4A)) added by 77th amendment, 1995; Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from considering any unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for being filled up in that year in accordance with any provision for reservation made under clause (4) or clause (4A) as a separate class of vacancies to be filled up in any succeeding year or year and such class of vacancies shall not be considered together with the vacancies of the year in which they are being filled up for determining the ceiling of fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of that year. Added by 81st amendment, 2000; Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination (Article 16(5)).

Article 16 ensures equality of opportunity for all the citizens and not the persons in matters of employment (clause 1) and says, in clause 2, that the citizens would not be discriminated on grounds such as stated in Article 15. Clause (3), (4) (4A) and (5) of Article 16 make provisions for exceptions (four in members) to the general rule of equality of opportunity, clause 4A was added by 77 amendment (1995) and clause 4B by 81st amendment (2000). “The historic case with regard to clause 4 of Article is well-known. It is the Indra Sahwney v. Union of India—1993, usually described as the Mandal case. “The Supreme Court, in its decision, summarised various aspects of reservations: (i) that the backward classes reservation world not exceed 50 percent; (ii) that such classes world be identified on the basis of caste and not only on economic basis; (iii) that the creamy layer would be excluded from backward classes; (iv) that the backward classes would not include those who are socially and educationally backward; (v) that reservation would not be permitted in promotion. In accordance with 77th amendment made in 1995, it was provided that reservation in promotion would continue if the government so wants. “The 77th amendment (1995) forbids and the 81st amendment (2000) and 85th amendment (2001) permit 50% filling up of the vacancies respectively. However, the Government would have, for purposes of reservation in promotion, to show, in each case, the existence of compelling reasons—backwardness, inadequacy and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation.

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