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Andhra’s controversial private sector quota could face a massive legal hurdle

Updated : August 21, 2019 07:01 PM IST

It’s a piece of legislation that has Andhra Pradesh’s heavy industries and construction sector worried — 75 percent reservation for locals in the state’s private sector. But Andhra’s Employment of Locals in Industries and Factories Bill could give Chief Minister Jagan Reddy some sleepless nights on the legal front. Stakeholders in Andhra Inc are now calling for an overhaul to existing state labour laws, should the quota be implemented.

"If you have upto nine people in your employ, you come under one act; on the other hand if you have nine to ten people you come under another; if you have 100 people you come under the Industrial Disputes Act where you can't fire anybody without government permission. So, you need to consolidate these Labour Laws completely, and not keeping adding to them," said Vizag-based builder AV Monish Row, who is also a member of the Vizag Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Although voices like that of Monish’s have viewed the legislation with some uncertainty, employees and students have a different view. For a state that's reeling under the economic impact of bifurcation, jobs in Andhra for locals could be just what its human resource index — and voters — are looking for.

"After the state was divided a few years ago, locals have no jobs,” said Rajesh, an employee at one of Vizag’s heavy industries, “So, this quota will be useful for the people of this state." Another employee that CNBC-TV18 spoke, to added, “Locals can now work from their hometown and be with their families,” welcoming the quota.

However, given the absence of any legal precedent, some experts feel the bill will hold no water in a court of law. There is also a view that the bill possibly goes against the very tenets of the Indian constitution. “Article 16(1) states that no citizen should be discriminated with respect to jobs across the country,” said K Satish Kumar, Legal Head, Ramco, “So, it (Employment of Locals Bill) is a gross violation of Article 16(1) enshrined in the constitution of the country.”

That leaves the ball in the justice system's court. If a court should strike down AP's Reservation Bill, all Chief Minister Jagan Reddy can celebrate are the political brownie points his government's intention gets him.
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