This article is a compilation of Article 16 as it is. You can understand it well, that’s why its explanation is also given below, you must read it. Its explanation is also available in Hindi, for this you can use the link given below;

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Article 16
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📖 Read This Article in Hindi

📜 Article 16

16. Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment — (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 1[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.

2[(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation 3[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.]

4[(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 up in any 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.

5[(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. ]
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1. Subs. by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, s. 29 and Sch., for “under any State specified in the First Schedule or any local or other authority within its territory, any requirement as to residence within that State” (w.e.f. 1-11-1956)
2. Ins. by the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, s. 2 (w.e.f. 17-6-1995).
3. Subs. by the Constitution (Bighty-fifth Amendment) Act, 2001, s. 2, for certain words
(retrospectively) (w.e.f. 17-6-1995).
4. Ins. by the Constitution (Eighty-first Amendment) Act, 2000, s. 2 (w.e.f. 9-6-2000).
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🔍 Explanation

Right to Equality has been described from Articles 14 to 18 of Part 3 of the Constitution. Which can be seen in the chart below. The third article of this is Article 16, which talks about “equality of opportunity in public employment”.

right to equality
| Article 14 – Equality before law and equal protection of laws
| Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, sex and place of birth
| Article 16 – Equality of opportunity in public employment
| Article 17 – Abolition of untouchability
| Article 18 – Abolition of titles

Equality is a fundamental element for the establishment of a public welfare state because it prevents us from social, economic, political deprivation.

We have understood under Article 14 and Article 15, how equality has been tried to be established with the help of the principle of “equality before law and equal protection of laws” and “prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth” respectively.

The next to the same is Article 16, although Article 16 is only for Indian citizens while Article 14 applies to all persons living in India. Let us understand each of its provisions;

| Article 16 – Equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment

(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

That is, Article 16 (1) gives the right to all citizens to do jobs under the state. It is not limited only to organized public services and external posts held on contract basis, but also applies to traditional posts in villages appointed by the state.

So in all there are basically two rights included under Article 16(1) – (1) the right to apply for a post under the government and (2) the right to apply for the post on the basis of merit Right to be considered.

| Things to remember –

(1) Since this article is an extension of articles 14 and 15, the principle of reasonable classification works here also.

That is, keeping in mind the requirement of service or post, the government can decide in what proportion to do direct recruitment or to recruit through promotion.

However, the government has to keep in mind that it should not become discriminatory. For example, if the service of an employee is terminated without any valid reason, then it would be considered discriminatory.

But if an employee is engaged in any subversive work while in his post and then he is retrenched by the government, then it will not be considered discriminatory.

(2) Secondly, the Government may lay down such pre-conditions for the person to be appointed as may be conducive to the maintenance of efficiency or proper discipline in Government servants.

Remember here that promotion and termination of service are also kept under employment or appointment.

(2) No citizen shall be ineligible for, or discriminated against, in respect of any employment or office under the State on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, residence or any of them.

Here you can see that the word ‘only’ has been used i.e. on the basis of religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth and residence, you will not be discriminated against in government jobs, but apart from this, it can be done on other grounds. Like on the basis of your qualification, disability, age etc.

(3) Parliament may, if it so desires, impose a condition of residence for any particular employment.

This provision is an exception to the first and second provisions of Article 16. You can understand this in such a way that people from a developed state are taking jobs in an underdeveloped state, this can create a lot of obstacles in the development of underdeveloped states.

Keeping this in mind, under the third provision of Article 16, it has been arranged that where jobs have been generated, local people should be given priority in this.

But remember here that it does not mean that if jobs are available in a village then only the people of the village will be given priority. Rather the people of that state will be given priority. That is, to take advantage of this provision, the state is considered as a unit and not a village, block or district.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this article, the State may make provision for reservation in appointments in favor of any backward class of citizens which is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

This provision is very important, because the reservation that backward classes get in jobs is given under this. That is, this provision is an exception to the first and second provisions of Article 16.

However, it is to be remembered here that there are certain provisions of clauses 1 and 2 of Article 16 which are equally applicable to the reserved persons such as pension, increment, conditions of employment etc. It means to say that no reservation works in salary, increment, gratuity, pension etc.

One more thing to remember here is that through two amendments some other provisions have also been added to Article 16(4) such as consequential seniority in promotion for SC and ST category people with the help of 77th Constitutional Amendment 1995 has been added.

And with the help of the 81st Constitutional Amendment Act 2000, arrangements have been made to fill the backlog vacancies in the coming years. What is all this, you will understand it better when you understand reservation.

(5) A member of an institution or its executive council may, by law, be a member of a particular religion.

Suppose a Maulvi is running a temple trust, then what would be the situation. This does not mean that it cannot happen, but if the Parliament has made a law that only the people who believe in that religion will be its supreme authority, then it can happen.

(6) 10 percent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)

It has been added to the constitution in the year 2019 with the help of 103rd constitutional amendment. And under this, the benefit of 10 percent additional reservation has been given to the people belonging to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). What is the mathematics behind this, we will understand it in the article on reservation.

So overall this is Article 16, I hope you have understood its concept. May be you have not understood it properly. To understand this properly, you have to understand reservation very well.

◾ Reservation in India [1/4]

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Disclaimer - The articles and their interpretations presented here are based on the original Constitution (latest edition), DD Basu's commentary on the Constitution (mainly) and various scholars of the Constitution (whose writings are available in newspapers, magazines and audio-visuals on the Internet). We have just tried to make it interesting and easy to understand.