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The domicile Bill in Jharkhand

  • Published
    1st Feb, 2023
Context

The Jharkhand Governor has returned the domicile Bill, which defines a ‘local’ in the state on the basis of 1932 land records to the state government to “seriously review” its legality.

Background:

  • The Jharkhand government has introduced the bill in its Assembly session and once it is passed by the state Assembly it will be sent to the Union Government with a proposal to place it in the 9th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • In Jharkhand; various tribal groups have been demanding 1932 as the cut-off year because that year the land survey and revenue register was done in large parts of the State.
About the Bill:
  • The domicile Bill defines a 'local' in Jharkhand on the basis of 1932 land records.
  • The Bill mentions that only local persons, as identified under it, would be eligible for appointment in class 3 and 4 positions of the state government.
  • According to the proposed domicile policy, people who have their names or their ancestor’s name in the land records of 1932 or before, will be considered local inhabitants of Jharkhand.
  • Those who have lost their land records or have land records which are illegible or are landless people can approach their respective Gram Sabhas for their inclusion.
  • This is not in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality in employment.
  • The Governor mentioned that only Parliament has been empowered to impose any kind of conditions in matters of employment.

Governor’s argument against the Bill:

  • The Governor said that while various areas of Jharkhand are covered under the Fifth Schedule (dealing with provisions for Scheduled Tribes), in the case of Satyajit Kumar vs. the State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court has again declared 100 per cent reservation given by the state in scheduled areas as unconstitutional.
  • Such a provision clearly appears to be inconsistent, having an adverse effect on fundamental rights when the State Legislature is not vested with the power to pass a Bill in such cases. 

State government’s argument:

  • The Jharkhand government had included a provision in the Bill that it would come into force only after the Centre carried out amendments to include it in the Ninth Schedule, putting it beyond judicial scrutiny.

The Ninth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of central and state laws that cannot be challenged in court.

However, courts in the past have said that law can be reviewed if they violate fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.

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