Public Employment and Son of the Soil Theory

Public Employment refers to employment in state-run institutions. In most cases of public employment, there are reservations with regard to the classes considered to be backward in nature. This classification is based on various criteria that are put forward in the Constitution.  These reservations are seen as a way of providing equality in employment opportunities.

In the case of M M Thomas v State of Kerala, the main issue was with regard to reservation in employment. The issue was of the promotion from the position of a Lower desk Clerk to an Upper desk Clerk. The promotion was decided based on a test. Here, the people belonging to the general category were given a certain time period to take the test, but for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe community, the time period was extended to 2 years. A case was filed on the grounds of being violative of Article 16 of the Constitution. The court held that this extended time period was constitutionally valid as it took into consideration the overall backwardness of the communities. However, in the case of K C Vasanth Kumar v State of Karnataka, the court took a different stance.

The court held that economic backwardness alone is not a condition for backwardness, social backwardness, and historical injustices also form a major part of it. The progress made by every community should be checked, if the community has progressed enough to compete with the general public then they should be removed from the list of backwardness. These were the main cases with respect to public employment and equality of opportunity. 

‘Son of the soil’ theory is a theory that puts forward the idea of reservation based on regionalism. A particular state is considered to be the homeland of the main linguistic group residing there. This theory is based on the idea that the primary responsibility of a state is to protect its citizens. This theory is applied more in states where there is a large population of migrants. It is a way of giving an upper hand to the locals over the migrants in employment opportunities. This theory is in accordance with the provisions of Article 16(3) of the Indian Constitution, which extends to the State government the power to make laws that give special provisions to the people of that region.

Equality in education was a major issue that arose with respect to the ‘Son of the Soil’ theory. The preference is given to students belonging to the state, in other words, the natives of the state are given a preference in terms of admissions in institutions. A major case dealing with this issue is D P Joshi v State of Madhya Pradesh. This case was regarding the admissions in Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, a previously privately owned now state-run Medical College. When the state started conducting admissions, preference was given to the students who lived in Madhya Pradesh(domicile) by waiving off the capitation fee. Students outside Madhya Pradesh had to pay a capitation fee. The main issue that arose was whether Article 15(1) was violated. The provisions of Article 15(1) prohibits discrimination on basis of place of birth. The Court held that the practice was not violative of Article as the domicile practice was reservation on basis of place of residence not the place of birth. In the dissenting opinion, it was said discrimination on basis of place of residence is the same as discrimination on basis of place of birth.

However, a different perspective was adopted in the case of Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka. Here, the government gave private medical colleges permission to collect excessive capitation fees from students of other states taking admission via a private seat. The students procuring admission via government seat had no capitation fee and the Karnataka residents opting for private seats had a low capitation fee. When this matter was taken to court, it was seen as a violation of the Right to Education. The court held that the classification was not valid as everyone has a right to education. The Right to education was brought under Article 21, the Right to life.

The Courts initially gave importance to theories like ‘Son of the Soil’ theory, but when they have been found violative of other constitutional provisions and fundamental rights, the court gave preference to the fundamental rights. 

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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