IT does not come as much of a surprise that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed the Haryana law that provided for 75 per cent reservation for locals in private jobs fetching up to Rs 30,000 a month. The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, has been declared unconstitutional. A Division Bench ruled that it was beyond the purview of the state to restrict private employers. A government, it added, could not discriminate against individuals merely because they did not belong to a particular state. The controversial legislation has been a subject of debate from the outset. Red flags have often been raised, stating that its provisions violate constitutional and legal norms.
Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala, who piloted the legislation despite initial hesitation by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, wants the HC order to be challenged in the Supreme Court. A key poll promise, the reservation gambit was aimed at wooing young voters. The High Court ruling is a setback to the BJP-JJP coalition with less than a year to go for the Assembly polls. The issue of joblessness has come to the fore again. The government claims that the legislation would have helped young aspirants get jobs. The industry, which believes that the Act infringes upon the fundamental rights of employers and prospective employees, has heaved a sigh of relief. A mismatch is evident.
Forced jobs are principally anti-business and kill the spirit of entrepreneurship. Where there should have been public-private collaboration to train the youth and upgrade their skills, falling back on coercion can only be counter-productive. Haryana’s industrial interests are better served by promoting skilled trades and having a competent workforce that can hold its own anywhere in the country. That’s the empowerment the state’s jobless residents need.