The controversial piece of legislation – the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill – passed by the assembly on November 5, 2020 and assented to by the governor on March 2, 2021, provides for 75% reservation in private sector jobs to those having a resident certificate (domicile). The law will be applicable for a period of 10 years.
The state government has also relaxed the residency (domicile) requirement from 15 to five years for a person to get a bona fide resident certificate in the state to provide flexibility to the private companies in hiring.
The law modelled the lines of a law enacted by the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has been termed ‘regressive’ by the industry. The Andhra law has also been challenged on the question of constitutional validity in the high court.
As per the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Rules notified on January 10, local candidates seeking employment under the Act will have to register on a designated portal https://local.hrylabour.gov.in/.
“Private sector hiring comes to a halt from January 15, the date of commencement of the Act. Now, every employer in the state will first have to register employees receiving gross monthly salary or wages not more than ₹30,000 on the designated portal within three months of coming into force of the Act. No person will be employed or engaged by any employer till the registration of all such employees is completed on the designated portal,” said an official quoting the law.
Exemptions for the industry, corporates
Deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala had said start-ups and new information technology (IT) companies will be exempted from the provisions of the Act for two years. Officials said this primarily meant that start-ups, companies, firms and establishments which come into being or are set up after January 15 will be exempted for two years from hiring 75% local candidates by the state government.
Also, any internal hiring (from within a company or an establishment) is likely to be exempted from the law.
In a measure to placate the industry, the state government had reduced the upper limit of gross monthly salary for jobs which will come under the ambit of private sector job quota law. Now, jobs having a gross monthly salary of not more than ₹30,000 will be up for hiring from among local candidates.
The Bill passed by the assembly last year had capped the gross monthly wages for jobs available for hiring at ₹50,000. However, after getting feedback from industrial houses and entrepreneurs, the state government decided to reduce the salary cap.
The law said employers can seek exemption from hiring local candidates on the grounds that adequate number of local candidates of the desired skill, qualification or proficiency are not available. Any exemption granted under the rules will, however, be valid for maximum one-year period from the date of grant of the exemption.
A vacancy unfilled after granting the exemption beyond the period of one year will be treated as new or fresh vacancy unless the exemption is granted subject to training of local candidates to achieve the desired skill, qualification or proficiency.
Employers will have to furnish a quarterly report pertaining to local candidates employed and appointed during the previous quarter. Local candidate aggrieved by the action of any employer in violation of any provision of the law can file a complaint through electronic mode on the designated portal.
The law also provides for imposition of penalty on the employer ranging from ₹10,000 to ₹two lakh, coupled with a per day penalty in the range of ₹100 to ₹1,000 per day for violations.
‘Law may not pass legal scrutiny’
Legal experts said the new law is in contravention of the Constitution and will not withstand judicial scrutiny. Former Haryana advocate general Ashok Aggarwal had said domicile can never form the basis of employment.
Aggarwal said if public employment cannot be given on the basis of domicile how can private jobs be. The government is not the employer in private sector jobs, he said. He added that only a small percentage of low-end jobs can be reserved and that too for special reasons.
While tabling the Bill in assembly, the government had modified its Section 23 to provide the law an overriding effect on any other state law.
The same provision provided an overriding effect to the law over any other law when an ordinance was approved by the cabinet. Since the provision had the potential to be repugnant to an Act of the Parliament its wording was changed in the Bill.
However, issues raised by the law and legislative secretary during vetting of the proposed law still holds good, legal experts said. The clause providing for preference in jobs to the local candidates domiciled in Haryana, experts said, was in contravention of Article 14 of the Constitution pertaining to equality before the law and Article 19 (1)(g) which provides for protection of certain rights to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.