Article 16 -Right to equal opportunity

“Arjun and Priya applied for the same job in the Government office, but Priya was rejected because she was a female. Mr. Lexi told Priya that her fundamental right to equality has been violated and she can take legal action against it”.

Introduction

Does the Indian Constitution talk about equality in public employment?
Yes, Article 16 of the Indian Constitution provides for “Equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment”.
What is the nature of Article 16?

Under Article 16, the right to equality in the matters of public employment is a fundamental right.

What does Article 16 provide for?
It states that among the citizens of India, there shall be equality at the time of employment or appointment to any office under the State.
On whom is Article 16 of the Constitution applicable?
It is applicable to the citizens of the country.

CONTENTS OF ARTICLE 16

What are the components of Article 16?
  • Equal employment opportunities for the citizens when being appointed in the offices under the State. 
  • Discrimination on grounds such as- religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth and/or residence at the time of appointment in the offices under the State is not permitted. 
  • The Parliament has the power to make special provisions for citizens who are appointed to any office under the State with regard to the residence of the person in the State or the Union Territory prior to such employment. 
  • Reservation of services under the State in favor of backward class of citizens. 
  • The provisions of this Article shall not affect the working of any office working in connection with religious affairs, etc. 
According to Article 16, what constitutes ‘equal opportunities in public employment’?

It means that wherever any person applies for a job under the State, the citizen shall be given equal opportunity as others, without any discriminaiton.

Does Article 16 say that no one can be denied a job under the State?

No, it is so because the Government has the right to select the candidates for the purpose of employment as long as they are given equal opportunity to apply for the said Government job.

What are the grounds mentioned in Article 16, upon which there can be no discrimination?
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Caste
  • Sex
  • Descent 
  • Place of Birth and/or
  • Residence
The Parliament can make provisions for a selected class of people. Which is the class for which these provisions can be made?

The provisions can be made for the backward classes which have not been represented adequately in the services under the State Government.

APPLICABILITY OF ARTICLE 16

Article 16 is applicable to which offices?

It is applicable to only public employment i.e, the offices under the Central and the respective State Governments.

Is Article 16 applicable to the private sector?

No, Article 16 is not applicable to the private sector. It is applicable only to the public sector.

Is Article 16 applicable at the time of promotions?

No, the reservations provided under Article 16 is not applicable at the time of the promotions.

In A Nutshell

  • Article 16 is a fundamental right granted to all the citizens of India, under the Indian Constitution. 
  • It provides that at the time of public employment or appointment to offices under the State, there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, decent, place of birth and/or residence. 
  • Article 16 of the Constitution states that the parliament can make special provisions for the backward classes where the State is of the opinion that these classes do not have adequate representation in the public employment. 
  • It is important to note that this Article is applicable only to the public employment and not to the private sector.

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