The essence of equality constructs the Constitution of India, as the main aim of the constitution-makers was to create a democratic society in which justice in all forms such as social, economic and political justice prevailed, along with the equality in status and opportunities. Positive action objects to promote societal equality through the special treatment of socio-economically disadvantaged people. Societal acceptance of any law is very important because any law cannot accomplish its objective until society accepts it. Right to equality is the very basic and one of the most important features of the Indian constitution and it guarantees to all the citizens of India. If we want to bring equality in the society then the individual of every class must get an equal opportunity in every field, so that they can be part of the society without any discrimination. And that’s why equal opportunity in Public Employment is important.
Article 16 states the Equality of Opportunity in the matters of public employment and it instructs wide commitment among the members of current services. “Equal opportunities” is a broadly used phrase which promotes the idea that everyone within an organization should have an equal chance to apply and be selected for posts, to be trained and promoted and to have their employment terminated equally and fairly. Equality or treating all classes of people equally and as one has the same relation in employment i.e. is Equal Employment Opportunity. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is not just a theory, it should be practicable and also a requirement under law. Consequently, both employers and employers have to safeguard they practice Equal Employment Opportunity.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) principles apply to:
- Access to jobs
- Conditions of employment
- Relationships in the workplace
- The evaluation of performance and
- The opportunity for training and career development
Equality of opportunity means that every citizen shall be eligible for employment or appointment to any office under the State according to his qualifications and capability, as held by the Supreme Court in the case of State of J. & K. v. K.V.N.T. Kholo.
General federal laws state that a prospective employee cannot be deprived or discriminated against due to the following:
- Incapacity/ Disability
- Sexual orientation
Article 16 also provides such provisions and we are going to discuss this in detail. Articles 16(1) and 16(2) states a general instruction that there shall be equal opportunity for all the citizens of India in the government jobs. Though, the Article 16(3), 16(4), 16(4A) and 16 (4B) deliver the additional strength to all the kinds of the discrimination among the people on account of their unequal status. In addition to that, the Article 16(3) permits the state to make any law relating to residence qualifications which are necessary in the case of the government jobs, accordingly for making the domicile provisions stronger. The Constitution 103rd Amendment Act, 2019 has inserted clause (6) in Article 16 to provide ten per cent reservation of posts for economically weaker section of citizens in addition to the existing reservation in each category.4
Article 14 discusses the widest form of equality i.e., Equality before the law and equal protection under the law. It means that any privileges are absent to a section of people or any individual under the eyes of the law and similar people will be treated alike and no one will be favoured and discriminated, the law will provide equal protection to all the citizens of India. Article 15 protects equality and prohibits discrimination on five grounds i.e., religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. At the same time, this Article provides power to the state to make laws and special provisions for the upliftment of citizen on these grounds. But Article 16 is limited to employment and appointment. This Article also prohibits the discrimination on the grounds which is mentioned in Article 15(1) along with additional two grounds i.e., descent and place of birth. It provides equality in the matters of employments and appointments, and also enables the state to make rules and eligibility criteria for the selections in jobs and the State can also make reservation in government jobs for backward classes, if the government found it needed in a particular area.
Article 14, 15 and 16 along with each other create Constitutional Right to Equality. Article 15 and 16 after being together give effect to Article 14. It means if either Article 15 or Article 16 is being violated then it is certainly the violation of Article 14 but violation of Article 14 does not necessarily the violation of above two. Same when Article 16 is being violated then Article 15 automatically violated but not vice versa. Further, the prohibited grounds of discrimination under Article 16(2) are somewhat wider than those under Article 15(2) because Article 16(2) prohibits discrimination on the additional ground of descent and residence apart from religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth. In the case of Sukhnandan Thakur v. State of Bihar, Patna High Court followed by Sampath v. State of Madras, Madras High Court held that Article 16 guarantee discrimination against employment and appointment only but Article 15 is wider and deals with those cases which do not fall within the purview of Article 16.
Though, earlier, Articles 15(4) and 16(4) were considered exceptions to Articles 15(1) and 16(1) because the plain reading of the provisions give this impression, and this was the opinion of the Supreme Court also. But the views were changed in the case of State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas and the court held that Article 16(4) is not an exception to clause (1) and (2) and then in the case of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India was held that Articles 15(4) and 16(4) flow out of Articles 15(1) and 16(1) respectively, and can never be considered as exceptions to Article 15(1) and Article 16(1). It is a facet of equality of opportunity guaranteed in Article 16(1) and an effective method to realising and implementing it.
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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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge