(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 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.
(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation 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.
(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.
Article 16 (Draft Article 10) of the Constitution of India, 1950 was debated in the Constituent Assembly on 30th November 1948. There was a wide agreement in the Assembly on the importance of the Draft Article.
The two main issues around which conflict seem to emerge revolved around the question of residence and the meaning of ‘backward class’.
While some members wanted a residence criterion for employment in a state government, others didn’t want any such restrictions. Arguments in favour of the residence criteria claimed that only natives of a particular state could efficiently discharge their duties as officers of the state government. Also, there seemed to be a concern about people from other states capturing government posts, harming the chances of domiciled or native government job aspirants.
The responses to these arguments invoked the idea of common citizenship in the constitution which would be undermined by the residence criteria.
The Assembly also discussed the use of the term ‘backward class’ in the Draft Article. While some preferred the term due to its generality and ability to encompass a wider range of communities, others argued that the generality of term introduced a sense of vagueness; specific terms like ‘Scheduled Caste’ were better.
The Assembly also discussed if it was desirable to have reservations in government jobs for only a fixed period of time.
The Constituent Assembly then adopted the Draft Article with some amendments.