Constitutional Validity of the Reservation Announced by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister
In 2020, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh announced reservation for government job in the State of Madhya Pradesh only for the people with domiciles of the state. This invoked mixed reaction from the citizens, it also infringed the right guaranteed to the citizens of India under Article 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India.
Laws dealing with Reservation
Constitution of India has granted the citizens of the country set of fundamental rights. These rights are the building blog of our democratic structure. Article 16(1) of the Constitution bestowed upon the citizens of India equal status in matters of employment and appointment to any office under the state. Article 16(2) of the Constitution states that no citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 16(3) of the Constitution is, however, an exception to the above mention laws as it states that 'parliament can make laws prescribing a requirement for any particular place of residence within the state or union territory in which the public office or employment may be in'. Article 19(e) of the constitution has bestowed the citizens the right to freely settle in any part of India.
Constitutional Validity of the Reservation
If we go by the book than, the reservation announce by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister infringes fundamental rights of the citizens. As mentioned earlier according to article 16(1) which guarantees equal rights to citizens in the matter of employment and appointment in state government without taking in account the place of birth. The decision of reserving all government jobs for the people domicile of the state hinders free enjoyment of the freedom given by the constitution to the citizens.
This reservation policy has created discrimination on the basis place of birth which violated Article 16(2) of the Constitution of India. Further, since the said decision has been taken by the State Legislature which according to Article 16(3) is wrong as the Article has given this power to the Parliament. Hence, the said declaration again infringes the right guaranteed to the Citizens.
Affirmative Laws Regarding Reservation
Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution of India empowers the state to make special provisions for reservation of seats for high rank jobs, and it also gives states the right to provide reservation to those belonging to socially and educationally backward class, SC and ST’s and contributes to their elevation.
Mandal Commission was formed by then President as per Article 340 of the Constitution of India, under the chairmanship of B.P. Mandal in 1978, to determine the criteria for defining socially and educationally backward class of citizens. According to the commission’s report, the population of India consist nearly about 52% of OBC’S therefore 27% of government job should be reserved for them.
Case Laws on Reservation
In Indra Sawhney v. UOI[ii], Supreme Court upheld the 27% reservation provided to backward class by Mandal Commission and it struck down the government’s decision to provide 10% reservation in government jobs for the economically backwards class of citizens. It also upheld the decision that the total reservation provided to the weaker sections should not be more than 50% of the total population. In Pradeep Jain v. Union of India[iii], the Court held that 'policies of reserving jobs for sons of the soil are violative of the Constitution'.
Further, in Sunanda Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh[iv], the Court upheld the decision made in Pradeep Jain v UOI and struck down the policy that provided extra weightage in marks to Telugu medium candidate. In Kailash Chand Sharma v. State of Rajasthan and Ors.[v], it was argued that geographical classification may fall under socio-economic backwardness of an area and therefore could be a valid basis for reservation in public employment as well. However, the Supreme Court observed that 'such a sweeping argument which has the overtones of parochialism is liable to be rejected on the plain terms of Article 16(2) and in the light of Article 16(3)'.
The criteria for reserving seats for those belonging to backward class should be based on the principle of Harmonious Construction so that providing reservation in government job’s to one section of society does not infringe the right granted to the other section of society. The government should take such step so as to ensure the overall development of the country as it is coated in the Constitution “INDIA THAT IS BHARAT SHALL BE UNION OF STATES”.
_____________________________  Ujjaini Chatterji, 'What Is the Constitutionality of Domicile Reservations Announced by MP Government?' (The Leaflet August 22, 2020) <https://www.theleaflet.in/what-is-the-constitutionality-of-domicile-reservations-announced-by-mp-government/#> accessed April 1, 2021
[ii] Indra Sawhney v Union Of India & Ors. AIR 1993 SC 477
[iii] Dr. Pradeep Jain v Union of India AIR 1984 SC 1420
[iv] V.N. Sunanda Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. AIR 1995 SC 914
[v] Kailash Chand Sharma v. State of Rajasthan & Ors. Appeal (Civil) 4417 of 2002
*The author of this post is Saman Rahman a law student from the Faculty of Law, University of Lucknow; and, a member of the Editorial Board.
Image Source: The Leaflet
Article Number: 2021/LKLR/04B07
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