Original Text of Article 16 of Indian Constitution:
(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.
(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office [under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory] prior to such employment or appointment.
(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation [in matters of promotion, with consequential seniority, to any class] or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
(4B) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from considering any unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for being filled up in that year in accordance with any provision for reservation made under clause (4) or clause (4A) as a separate class of vacancies to be filled succeeding year or years and such class of vacancies shall not be considered together with the vacancies of the year in which they are being filled up for determining the ceiling of fifty per cent. reservation on total number of vacancies of that year.]
5) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination.
(6) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the posts in each category.
List of Amendments in Article 16 of Indian Constitution:
|77th Amendment Act, 1995
|The amendment added clause 4A to article 16, which allows the State to provide reservations to a Schedule caste/ScheduledTribe in matters of promotion as long as the State believes that the Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe is not adequately represented in government services.
|85th Amendment Act, 2001
|The amendment stipulated that consequential seniority could be used in the context of reservation in promotion for government employees from the SCs and STs. This provision was applied retrospectively in June 1995.
|81st Amendment Act, 2000
|The amendment added clause (4B) in Article 16 to fill the backlog of vacancies that remained vacant due to the unavailability of eligible candidates. It allows the state to consider the unfilled vacancies as a separate class of vacancies, thus ending the 50% ceiling on the backlog of vacancies.
Article 16 of Indian Constitution Explanation:
Article 16 of Indian Constitution – Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment.
It guarantees equality of opportunity in public employment, which forms the basis of reservations in government jobs in India.
Article 16(1) provides equality of opportunity for all citizens in employment or appointment to any office under the State.
Article 16(2) holds that no citizen shall, only on the grounds based on caste, race, religion, sex, descent, residence, or place of birth, be discriminated against or be ineligible for employment for any office under the State.
However, there are exceptions:
Article 16(3) holds that the Parliament may, by law, provide for residents as a qualification for certain jobs.
Article 16(4) holds that the State can reserve posts for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or any backward classes of citizens, which, in the State’s opinion, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
In 1979, the Second Backwards Classes Commission was set up under the chairmanship of B P Mandal, under Article 340, to investigate the conditions of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes to suggest measures for their advancement.
In its 1980 report, the Commission submitted that as many as 3743 castes (excluding SCs/STs), constituting 52% of India’s population, were socially and educationally backwards. It recommended 27% reservation in government jobs for this class.
This was accepted by the VP Singh Government in 1990, to which the Narasimha Rao Government introduced an “economic Criteria”. Additionally, economically weaker sections (EWS) were provided with an additional 10% reservation.
This was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court.
In the Indra Sawhney/Mandal Case, 1992, the Supreme Court checked the scope and extent of Article 16(4).
It upheld the constitutional legality of the provisions of 27% reservations for the OBCs with certain conditions, including the – Exclusion of advanced sections (Creamy layer) among OBCs.
It rejected the 10% reservations for the EWS and stated that the reserved quota should never exceed 50% except in extraordinary conditions.
No reservation in promotions. However, a Government can introduce such reservations among SCs/STs if it can produce quantifiable data for backwardness. (M Nagarajan vs Union of India case, 2006).
Unfilled vacancies from the reserved category could be carried forward only up to 3 years as separate vacancies under the category. After that, they were to be filled afresh.
A permanent statutory body is to be established to examine complaints of over or under-inclusion in the list of OBCs. [National Commission for Backward Classes was established in 1993. The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act 2018 gave it a constitutional status under Article 338B].
However, some of the limitations put in by the Supreme Court in the Mandal Commission case were overridden by Constitutional amendments:
- Article 16 (4A) – Added by the 77th Amendment Act, 1995, enabling the Parliament to provide reservations for SCs and STs in promotions. This simply meant that even after the judgement of the Mandal case, the reservation in promotion in government jobs should continue.
- Article 16 (4B) – Added by the 81st Amendment Act, 2000 to fill the backlog vacancies that remained vacant due to the unavailability of eligible candidates. It allows the State to consider the unfilled vacancies as a separate class of vacancies, thus ending the 50% ceiling on the backlog vacancies.
- Article 15(6): Added by the 103rd Amendment Act, 2019, allowing the government to reserve up to 10% of all government appointments for the Economically weaker sections (EWS). Thus pushing the total reservations in India above the 50% limit.
The Parliament amended the Constitution of India (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019 to provide a 10% reservation in government jobs and education in India for a section of the General category candidates.
Introduction of Articles 15 (6) and 16 (6): The Amendment introduced economic reservation by amending Articles 15 and 16. It added Articles 15 (6) and 16 (6) to allow reservation in the unreserved category for the economically backward.
1. Article 15(6): For EWS, up to 10% of seats can be reserved for admission to educational institutions. Such reservations will not apply to educational institutions maintained by minorities.
2. Article 16(6): It allows the government to reserve up to 10% of all government appointments for the EWS.
The Supreme Court validated the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act. According to the court, it does not cause damage in any manner to the basic structure of the Constitution, and the Exclusion of the reserved categories from the EWS quota does not violate the equality code.
Article 16 (5) provides that the law can provide that the incumbent of an office related to a denominational or religious institution or a member of its governing body should come from that particular denomination or religion. For example – The head of a temple committee must be a Hindu.
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