Article 16 of the Indian constitution: It seeks to provide equal opportunity in the matter of public employment.
Article 16(1): There shall be equal opportunity for all citizens in a matter relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.
Article 16(2): No citizen shall on the ground only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or any of them be ineligible for any office under the state.
It bars discrimination not only in the matter of initial appointment but also of promotion and termination of service itself as employment includes promotion. Provided a person is eligible and is in the zone of consideration. But the consideration must be fair according to established principles governing service jurisprudence.
The only exceptions in Article 16 of the Indian constitution are :
Article 16(3): Residence within the state may be laid down by parliament as a condition for
particular classes of employment under any state or local authority.
Public Employment (Requirement as a Residence) Act 1957, empowering the government of India to prescribes residence as a condition for employment in certain posts and services in the state of Andhra Pradesh and in the UTs of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Tripura. This Act has expired in 1974.
At present there is no provision to prescribe residence as a condition for public employment, except that for Andhra Pradesh(special provisions have been made by inserting a new Article 371(D) in the constitution itself).
Article 16(4): The state may reserve any post or appointment in favor of any backward classes of citizens who are the opinion of the state is not adequately represented in the service under the state. This is to provide socio-economic equality to the disadvantaged. The ‘expression’ backward class of citizens contained in Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution would take SC/ST within its purview.
Article 16(5): Offices connected with religious or denominated institutions may be reserved for members professing the particular religion or belonging to the particular denomination to which the institution relates.
Article 16(6): It has been added by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment to provide reservations to people from economically weaker sections in public employment.
Article 335: The claims of the members of SC/ST shall be taken into consideration in the matter of appointment to services and posts under the Union and the State as far as may be consistent with the maintenance of efficiency of the administration.
But the provision to Article 335 providing for giving relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standard of evaluation in favor of the members of the SC/ST hits the consideration of maintenance of efficiency in administration and has done away with the emphasis on it laid down by the Apex in the same cases.
Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution includes Backward class including SC/ST but not women
A nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has in Indra Sawhney’s Case (popularly known as Mandal Commission case) laid down the following important points which summarise the law on the issue of reservation in government employment.
- Article 16(4) is exhaustive of the provision that can be made in favor of the backward classes in the matter of employment.
2. The backward class of citizens is not defined in the constitution. There is an integral connection between caste, occupation, poverty and social backwardness.
3. The backward classes can be identified in Hindu Society with reference to caste along with other criteria such as traditional occupation, poverty, place of residence, lack of education ..etc. And in a community where caste has not recognized the rest of the criteria would apply.
4. The backwardness contemplated by Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution is mainly social. It need not be both social and educational.
5. ‘Mean Test’ signifies the imposition of an income limit for the purpose of excluding a person from the backward class.
6. For getting a reservation a class must be backward and should not be adequately represented in the services under the state.
7. The reservation contemplated in Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution should not exceed 50%.
8. The rule of 50% should be applied to each year. It can not be related to the total strength of the class, cadre or services..etc.
9. Reservation of seats under Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution is conferred to initial appointment only and can not extend to providing reservation in the matter of promotion. If a reservation in promotion exists it shall continue for 5 years. By the 77th Constitution Appointment Act 1995, this limitation of time has been removed by inserting Clause(4A) to enable it to continue reservation in promotion for the SC/ST.
10. The identification of backward classes is subject to judicial review.
11. Sub Division of OBC contemplated in the Mandal Commission case is not applicable to SC/ST.
12. Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution does not confer constitutional rights upon the members of the backward classes to claim reservation.
13. The vacancies reserved could be carried forward for a maximum period of three years if the candidates from the backward class were not available after which they were to lapse. By inserting Clause(4 B) in Article 16 of the Indian constitution by the 81st Constitutional Amendment Act 2000, the state has been empowered to consider such unfilled vacancies as a separate class to be filled up in any succeeding year or years.
This article of the Indian constitution deals with equal opportunity in the case of public employment.
Article 16(4) of the Indian constitution allows the reservation of seats in public employment for the Backward class of citizens including the SC/ST community.
Article 16(6) of the Indian constitution allows the reservation for the economically weaker section of the society.
Mandal Commission deals with the reservation of seats in public employment for the Other Backward Class of citizens.