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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Explained: The Jharkhand bill that reserves 75% jobs in private sector for locals

Here's a look at the applicability, exemption, penalties and other provisions in The Jharkhand State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2021.

Written by Abhishek Angad , Edited by Explained Desk | Pakur |
Updated: March 17, 2021 10:59:57 am
Hemant SorenJharkhand has approved an employment policy that requires 75% of private sector jobs up to a salary of Rs 30,000 per month to be reserved for local people. (Facebook: @HemantSorenJMM )

On Monday, the Jharkhand government announced 75% reservation in private sector jobs with a salary of up to Rs 30,000 for locals. Here’s a look at the applicability, exemption, penalties and other provisions in The Jharkhand State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2021.

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How does the bill define private sector jobs?

The bill will treat shops, establishments, mines, enterprises, industries, companies, societies, trusts, Limited Liability Partnership firms and any person employing ten or more persons as the private sector and an entity. Moreover, the same may be notified by the government from time to time.

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To begin with, what do employers and employees have to do?

Every employer needs to register employees on a designated portal who are receiving gross monthly salary or wages not more than Rs 30, 000 — or as notified by the government from time to time — within three months of this bill (after turning into an Act) coming into force. The bill further says that no person should be engaged or employed unless the registration process is complete on the designated portal. The bill also says that no local candidate will be eligible to avail 75 per cent benefit without registering herself in the designated portal.

Who is a local given that Jharkhand has faced controversies over its definition since the state’s formation?

The bill defines a local candidate as a person who belongs to Jharkhand and is registered on the designated portal. However, an operational problem in implementing the proposed local reservations policy could lie in identifying its beneficiaries.

Questions around the definition of a ‘Jharkhandi’ had led to the resignation of Chief Minister Babulal Marandi in 2002 and successive governments thereafter had refrained from touching the issue.

The BJP-led Raghubar Das government, which came to power in 2014, notified a “relaxed domicile policy” in 2016, listing six ways in which one could be treated as a domicile of the state. Das’s policy was, however, criticised for not giving priority to tribals, for whom the state was created. Even the Hemant Soren-led government had formed a sub-committee to look into the domicile issue, however, as of now the government may continue with Das’ domicile policy.

Is there any exemption for employers?

Yes, the employer may claim exemption where an adequate number of local candidates of the desired skill qualification or proficiency are not available. The company has to apply to the Designated Officer (DO), the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned district, who will enquire into the attempts made by the employer to recruit local candidates of desired skill, qualification or proficiency. The officer may either accept or reject the proposal as well as direct the local employer to train the local candidates as per need.

What are the checks and balances provided in the bill?

The employer will have to furnish a quarterly return about vacancies and employment on the portal which will be examined by an Authorised Officer (AO), who is a District Employment Officer, who can call any records for the purpose of verification. The AO may pass an order seeing the compliance of the policy. In addition, if the employer fails to assist the officer, he will be guilty of not co-operating which will be an offence as provisioned by the bill.

The aggrieved employer may also file an appeal within 60 days of an order passed by the AO or DO in front of an Appellate Authority — the Director, Employment and Training, Government of Jharkhand. However, it is not clear how any employee or a local may raise a red flag and in front of whom if any rules are being in contravention of the said objective.

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What are the penalties in case of contravention?

There is a general penalty starting from Rs Rs 10,000 to Rs 50, 000. The penalty for not registering themselves on the designated portal is Rs 50, 000 and may extend up to Rs 1 lakh and if the contravention continues even after being penalised then the penalty will be Rs 5, 000 per day. In contravention of recruiting local candidates, the penalty will fall in the bracket of Rs 50, 000 to Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5000 per day in case the contravention continues and the same is applicable in case the company flouts the exemption rules.

In case of falsification of records, the penalty will be up to Rs 50, 000 per offence and if the offence is committed again, the penalty will fall under the bracket of Rs two to five lakh. The Bill also says that an order cannot be passed unless an opportunity has been given to hear the employer and no penalty can be imposed unless a written notice is given to the employer informing the grounds of penalty and subsequently providing an opportunity to be heard.

 What are the possible loopholes that have the potential to create trouble?

The bill says no suit or legal proceedings shall lie in any court against any AO or DO or any person or body of persons acting under the order of AO and DO for anything which is done in good faith, or intended to be done in pursuance of provisions of this Act. However, what defines good faith has been left open-ended and may be misused.

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