In a significant decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted an interim stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a Haryana law that upheld a 75 per cent reservation in private sector jobs to local candidates.
However, the Haryana government has been specifically directed to refrain from taking coercive steps against private sector employers opting not to follow the contentious new law.
The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, was passed in November 2021. It applies to jobs offering a maximum gross monthly salary or wages of ₹ 30,000. It came into effect January 15, after which deputy CM Dushyant Chautala declared it would open new avenues of employment for thousands of young men and women in the state.
Earlier in February, Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar’s government had moved the Supreme Court against a Punjab and Haryana HC order that called the quota ‘unsustainable’ and ‘against natural justice’. The state argued that the order was passed after a 90-second hearing.
The apex court bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and P.S. Narasimha today asked the Punjab and Haryana HC to hear the matter fully and rule in four weeks.
During the hearing, Dushyant Dave, arguing for the Faridabad Industries Association, said the law would have “far-reaching implications”, including the threat of small private sector firms being forced to shut due to lack of sufficient candidates for reserved jobs.
Dave also said private hospitals could be affected because many employed nurses from Kerala. He pointed out that the Haryana government’s claim – that 900 firms had registered under the law – “means nothing”, because there were over 45,000 private companies in the state.
Shyam Divan, appearing for the Manesar Industries Welfare Association, said “… this affects the idea of India as an economic unit”.
Represented by solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, the state argued the law would “ensure people do not have to move elsewhere (for jobs)” and claimed it would also it will solve the problem of slums.